open thread – August 5-6, 2016

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,471 comments… read them below }

  1. One More Alison*

    In early/mid July, I met with someone to talk about potentially doing some freelance work for her organization. She loved my work (grant writing) and said she would be in touch in August about getting started on some projects. Obviously it’s only early August, but I’d really like to get in touch with them to figure out when/if they will need me. Is it a bad idea to reach out and ask if they will need my services this month? I know they have been very busy, but I really don’t want to fall through the cracks when this could be my first potential client!

    1. Anna No Mouse*

      I think it’s been long enough to reach out, as long as you do it in a “hey, I’m still interested in working together, and wanted to see if you are too” kind of way. Low pressure, just checking in.

    2. Hellanon*

      What I always used to do was say that I was working on my calendar for the next couple (months, weeks) and wanted to prioritize their needs, and wondered if they had a sense of what kind of time they’d need from me. It reminded my freelance clients that we’d talked while leaving them room to tell me they’d pushed my project down the list if they needed to – but a lot of times, I got the response I wanted, which was, “Yes, and our due date is thus-and-so – let’s talk.”

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Yes! I think this is the way to do it- that you want to know if you need to make priority/set time aside to help them, this is your way of checking in.

    3. One More Alison*

      Thanks Guys! that wording was perfect, we’re grabbing coffee Monday to discuss :)

      1. LuvThePets*

        congratulations! Taking that first step is often the hardest. Hope it goes great for you!

  2. Folklorist*

    Jumping in early (har) for the ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!! That thing you don’t want to do? That thing you have a mental block against? Just effin’ do it! Then comment, because, you, positive reinforcement. And stuff. Good luck and happy doing!

    1. Folklorist*

      …*because, you know…
      Typing too fast. I’m going to go and write that fact-checking email now.

    2. UnCivilServant*

      I already put off procrastinating. Now is my time to say “I’ll get to it later” (It’s also my lunch break)

    3. Pineapple Incident*

      Breaking down legal jargon into terms people can understand for an FAQ-type resource. This is my least favorite section, because I’m going to keep having to refer back to the law itself just so I can understand the stupid thing in the first place.

    4. Microscope Jockey*

      I picked up the 9,000,000 tiny dropper bottles students left all over the lab. Now I can organize them the way I like them at my leisure…..or good off on the computer.

    5. Anonsydance*

      I did the attendance sheet for the guys in the plant! It changes every week because we seem to have a revolving door of temp workers (we’re in manufacturing) so we need to have a sheet of updated names and where they work each day. I usually wait until like 4, but it’s nice to get it done before lunch!

    6. straordinaria*

      My dissertation. It’s due the end of August and I’ve only done about half of it. Aaaargh. Back to work.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Not exactly procrastinating, as I was reading this while eating breakfast, but I finished and then pasted sections into a report. :)

      Aaaaaand just as I completed typing that sentence, something else just came in!

    8. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      Strangely, being nagged in an anti-procrastination post makes me less want to get up and do something and more want to procrastinate…

    9. zora.dee*

      My boss is out of town all week, and all of my coworkers are out today, so I’m in the office alone.. so this whole day will be a procrastination day ;o)
      But I went ahead and finished a couple more background docs that I need to finish next week.

    10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Made a phone call that I was dreading. It wasn’t a big deal — just doing a little negotiating with a client. It’s just the thing I was choosing to focus my anxiety on and therefore putting off.

      Love this post, every week. Thank you!

    11. Lazy*

      I need to sew for my Etsy shop. I already invested a few $100 into beautiful fabrics and supplies, but it’s just been sitting on my table giving me a guilt complex.

    12. BananaKarenina*

      Still applying for teaching positions for the fall – hopefully as my last year in the classroom. But the dread of having to relocate again, combined with fighting the triple enemies of anxiety, perfectionism, and cover letter writing burnout, have set out procrastination’s welcome mat.

      Here’s to plugging away. And, to put “find better friends who will actually help with the job process” on my to-do list.

    13. Finishing it tomorrow should be my family crest put we kept putting it off*

      Just finished writing my 2nd of 7 performance evaluations. Can I get through a 3rd before I leave today?

    14. Blue Anne*

      Calling up a client who I should have spoken to WEEKS ago about her declining credit card. Did it, she was very helpful and not at all annoyed, got everything sorted out!

    15. LordVetinariIsMySpiritAnimal*

      I made a GTD-style “open loops” list at work on Monday, complete with next actions for each one where possible – I have crossed off FOUR WHOLE PROJECTS as of today!

  3. TGIF*

    I have a not-so-typical ‘do I follow up again’ question, which I know the answer is usually ‘no’.

    There was a traveling children’s exhibit in my town (think museum meets circus with more emphasis on education). When I arrived with my young cousins and their parents for a family outing, there was a sign out front saying that if you were interested in employment, talk to the people at the registration booth. According to the sign, the job would be about a dozen weekends in a year in different locations around the USA, with the company providing airfare and hotel on top of your paycheck for the weekend. Curious to know more, I broke off from my family and went to the table where they bounced me around four different people until they finally found me a manager.

    He didn’t have much time to talk, just asked me some basic questions about where I lived, my degree, and what I was currently employed. He gave me his email to send him my resume and he’d get back in touch with me after the weekend’s exhibit. When I returned home that same night, I sent him my information right away. However, it’s now been two weeks since sending the info and I have received no response.

    I normally wouldn’t worry too much but now I’m a little paranoid that I wrote down his email wrong (it was very loud there though that seems unlikely) or that he wasn’t the right person to talk to at the exhibit. There’s no usual employment page on their website or even email list for the staff that I could verify, just a generic contact form and a very responsive Facebook page. I’m tempted to use the contact form or FB to ask if there is someone I can speak with, rather than asking for that guy directly again. I normally wouldn’t, I know you’re not supposed to reach out multiple times but because I’m not even certain I was talking to the right person at the exhibit, I’m worried he forgot/ignored my email.

    I know this work wouldn’t lead to full time employment but it sounded interesting and fun, being able to travel a bit while helping out with an exhibit I really enjoyed, so I definitely want to speak more with someone about work. Should I follow up or continue to wait?

    1. Mela*

      I’m not sure you should follow-up at all, but if you do, definitely don’t do it through Facebook. The contact form might be a good option, but there’s a chance they’re still gathering resumes and are going to do a hiring blitz later.

      If you decide to follow up, I would definitely say, “I emailed Jim at a couple of weeks ago and haven’t heard back. I wanted to reach out because I’m interested… And then go into cover letter mode a bit. I’m assuming you can’t attach a resume, but hopefully that’s enough to make sure you didn’t slip through the cracks while also not being too much in case it’s just a slower hiring process.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I would follow up with the email address you were given. Its been two weeks, they advertised, and you followed their directions. Maybe just a reminder of where saw the info and that you really are interested.

    3. BRR*

      I think you’re ok following up once and a general message to the FB page that you talked to someone about applying and wanted to know if there was somewhere specific they posted jobs or one person to send applications to is fine. But I can’t help think if the rule should be “is it ok to follow up” or “is there a need to follow up.'” I just have the usual thought of if they wanted to interview you they would have reached out. That the email would have likely bounced back if you didn’t have a correct email address.

  4. Mela*

    Folks who work in Monitoring & Evaluation or GIS, I’d appreciate your perspective! I’m in public health, but I’m interested in hearing about your work in any subject area.

    I’m in the process of choosing a grad program (yes, I really do need grad school to progress in my career) and I’m trying to decide if I’m interested in focusing on either of those fields. They both intrigue me in an abstract way, but I’d like to know more about the day to day work. Initially, I ruled these out because I didn’t want to be behind a desk, staring at a computer, but as I get older (and presumably, crankier) sitting on my butt is looking more appealing.

    In school, I was generally bored with algebra and statistics but did well. I’m thinking that if applied to projects that interest me, then the boredom won’t be an issue because I’m solving a problem I care about? I just signed up to audit a Coursera course on GIS basics. I know GIS requires some programming background–what areas should I explore on that front to see if I’m interested/can handle it? What else should I do to further explore and decide on a good path to pursue?

    1. Pwyll*

      So, take this with a huge grain of salt because it’s been 15 years: when I worked in market research I handled some GIS because I was the only one who could figure out the software. Our needs were super basic: taking survey data and plotting it in relation to a map via block group or zip code (we did a ton of dot density and thematic mapping). SQL was the most important thing, as segmenting the research data was all parsed in SQL queries. Our research was maintained in proprietary databases as well, so understanding the mechanics of a database are helpful as well. (We used Access back in the dark ages, but I’d be surprised if that is still used).

    2. Jennifer M.*

      I have no advice on grad programs, but I can say that I work in international development and we are always in need of good M&E people, including on health related projects. And it’s not just sitting at a desk all day – a big chunk of it is out in the field and the field could be an SBCC project in Tanzania or a Zika project in the Caribbean or a worldwide supply chain management project for health commodities. At the proposal stage it’s creating a project monitoring plan (PMP). During start-up is when a lot of the field work happens as the PMP is finalized and intermediate results and milestones are defined. It’s also a lot of government reporting and figuring out how to give them what they want when what they want has changed from the plan that they approved 18 months ago, but you only have a week to come up with the new reporting structure.

      1. Mela*

        This is super helpful, thank you! I am gravitating a bit towards M&E because I’ve already dabbled a little bit designing pre/post tests to evaluate our programming and I know I enjoy it. The short term field work is a huge plus, as I’m the type that loves work travel.

        If you don’t mind me picking your brain a bit more, what types of programs would be best for that path? I’m looking at MPH programs for the most part, but also Int’l Development Programs as well. I know there are M&E programs, but that seems almost t00 focused.

        Pretty much all MPH programs have 1-2 M&E courses, but what else should I look for besides those basic courses? I’m imagining I could do a capstone project as a M&E project from start to finish at a non-profit in the developing world. I’ve also been looking at M&E-specific internships, but they seem few and far between.

        1. M&E FTW*

          I also work in international development and M&E experts are in *high demand* right now. We always need people who know how to design and implement program evaluations and impact evaluations. There’s a lot of opportunity to do contract work traveling all over the world, or to get a job on an M&E-focused contract with a development implementer. Make sure you learn how to *design* evaluations, not just collect and crunch data.

          1. Em*

            Where are job openings about such things posted? I currently work in M&V in a niche domestic field (designing impact evaluations…PhD social scientist by training) and would love to transition back into international work (I did a lot of international work in grad school). I always had the impression that international development work was extremely hard to break into.

            1. Jennifer M.*

              I would suggest looking at Devex. I also recently had a lot of success with, but that was because I was pretty familiar with the players. A lot of companies list their open positions there. And then once you get a feel of who the players are, check their websites. They will have listings for full time, consultancies, and proposals (ie you name/CV is part of the proposal but there is no guarantee of actual work even if the company wins).

      2. TheAssistant*

        Wanted to second this! I work at a startup where M&E is a significant chunk of my job. Caveat, I don’t have a Master’s degree and I had never done something like this before, so it IS possible to get a job like mine without any experience/degree/etc., but everyone I meet in this weird and wonderful subfield seems to have advanced knowledge.

        That said, M&E is hugely useful. I don’t know if I would get a degree in it, but certainly exploring it in the course of a grad program is likely going to pay off. This is one of those fields where theory is really useful – the theory is the hardest part to learn on the fly – and I’d recommend getting some hands-on data collection experience while you’re at it. I don’t have any, and it is a bit difficult to write my indicator definitions without knowing the realities of the field where we’re collecting.

        Good luck! I’ve attached my email here if you want to chat privately. I’m in a subfield of international development.

          1. Mela*

            Maybe we can find each other in the AAM LinkedIn group? I can make a post or something like that. Both my first and last name are very unique, so I’m hesitating putting it on here.

    3. Pineapple Incident*

      Are you me?? I’m looking into the exact same things, I’m just already in my grad program. I didn’t do quite enough research when I picked a program- I do like the one I’m in, but I can only go online and the electives offerings are slim pickins on the quantitative side unless I go to campus for them, which will be difficult but I may be able to swing it. For reference, I live in Northern VA and my program is based in DC.

      From the job ads I’m reading pertaining to data analysis and GIS, SQL and R appear to be in high demand- some have advertised for Python as well. My biggest piece of advice would be to do thorough research on the kinds of courses your program(s) of interest offer to you before you pick a few for applications. Good luck!!

    4. RL*

      GIS basics doesn’t require a programming background. If you are using ArcGIS, you might learn a little bit about ModelBuilder, which is a very easy way to create a program because it doesn’t require typing anything.

      Any further GIS probably will require programming. I’ve only ever heard Python mentioned as that’s the language ArcGIS uses, but R and SQL aren’t uncommon skills either.

    5. oldfashionedlovesong*

      I work in public health M&E! Are you considering an MPH or something else? My comments can only speak to the MPH path as that’s what I did. The thing about M&E and GIS for public health is that they are skills in your toolbox, not necessarily the focus of an entire graduate program. I don’t actually think I’ve heard of a school of public health where you can concentrate in M&E, but there may be new programs I’m not aware of.

      My MPH is in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology. The focus of the MPH is to teach you those foundational public health concepts and skills, and along the way you can build the toolbox skills by, say, taking a GIS course one semester, or doing an internship where you get to do a GIS project. But neither of those experiences at the grad school level are going to make you an expert in GIS. They will prepare you for applying to a public health job that asks for some GIS experience, and then you deepen your skills on the job. I myself learned only the very basics of program evaluation during my MPH, but that foundation was what I needed to interview well for my current job, and then I built my M&E skills on the job to the point where now I can reasonably apply to new jobs and call myself skilled in M&E.

      If you’re interested in these types of technical skills, I would recommend an MPH focus of Epidemiology (there’s also specialized programs like Environmental Epi, MCH Epi, etc. if you have a particular interest in those.) This is because Epi and eval often go together in public health jobs, and GIS is a very valuable tool for an epidemiologist. With the Epi track you will also get a better foundation in programs like SAS, Stata, and R than other tracks will. Someone in the Health Policy and Management track available at my grad school would get much less ROI on their GIS and statistical programming skills than someone in the Epi track.

      I feel like those thoughts were kind of all over the place but I’m happy to answer more questions if you have them!

      1. Mela*

        Not all over the place at all, thank you! I’ve been looking at lots of MPH programs. I would love to focus on global MCH, that’s the area of public health I’ve been working in already. The M&E programs I’m talking about aren’t in the US, and they’re not exclusive to public health. Because I’m pretty committed to public health at this point (undergrad degree + 4 years work experience), I’m hesitant to do a grad program that isn’t an MPH, since they’re so standard in the field.

        I completely agree with you that an Epi concentration would be the best path, but my question is how do I know Epi is for me? Right now, grad school in general is intimidating since I’ve been out of school for so long. On top of that, I’m not confident I would succeed on an Epi track as much as I would in a less math-heavy concentration. I’ve met a few MPH students who told me that the singular Epi course they had to take as a general requirement was the most painful thing in their academic life. Not sure how much stock I should put into that…

        1. oldfashionedlovesong*

          Global MCH is home to my heart :) Yes, the MPH is pretty standard now, and maybe because of that we’re seeing more and more dual-track programs, like combined MPH/MPP, or an MPH with a certificate in Global Health (could be a great option for you). You’re probably already familiar with SOPHAS but if not, that’s a great resource to narrow down which schools have the kind of programs you’re looking for.

          Yeah, it is pretty important to explore if Epi is right for you, especially if you’re not a numbers person and/or you’ve been out of school/away from the learning paradigm for awhile. The MPH program is so short that there’s not much room for a learning curve if you go the Epi track without being prepared for what it entails. I saw you’re auditing a GIS course – any chance you can audit an intro biostatistics course as well? If you visit edx dot org and search for “biostatistics”, there is a free online archived course called Health In Numbers from Harvard’s SPH that you might like to explore. Berkeley also has a lot of their biostats courses archived by department at webcast dot berkeley dot edu, both in the Public Health department and in the Statistics department. Under Public Health, I highly recommend the courses by Maureen Lahiff and Nicholas Jewell.

          1. Mela*

            Thanks so much! I’ll definitely check out a biostatistics course, that will definitely help me figure out if it’ll come flooding back or not…we’ll see! And I hadn’t heard of SOPHAS, that’s a really great resource. I’m looking more at EU programs (I have citizenship), but I do want to apply to a few US programs in case scholarships make the cost more reasonable.

        2. oldfashionedlovesong*

          I wrote a follow-up comment but I think it was put into moderation because I tried to include a link… so check back for that, and cross your fingers for me that it doesn’t appear three times because I think that’s how many times I clicked submit :P

        3. ElectricKatyland*

          Just hopping on to say that I have an MPH in a Social/Behavioral Concentration, with a Humanities undergrad degree, and I loved my Epi courses. Despite not having a math-heavy background, Epi was not painful in my experience, and I found the professors more than willing to work with students of all different backgrounds. You said you did well in previous math/stats classes – I would take that as a sign you’d rock Epi classes, too. Something else to consider is finding assistantships or intern opportunities with M&E in school – it will give you a chance to combine your coursework with your post-school interests and past experiences. Many of my MPH classmates landed jobs after school directly related to their assistantships or research in the program. Good luck!

          1. Mela*

            That’s really encouraging to hear! I do plan on having complementary internships, so it’s good to see that plan reinforced as a good one. Thanks!

          2. vpc*

            I *loved* my epi/biostats classes, but apparently I am more math-y than my classmates; many of them found the coursework very difficult. For reference, I hated/did miserably in calculus, but loved/did great in algebra, trig, and statistics. Apparently I like math problems that have answers written in numbers, not greek.

        4. TR*

          If you didn’t find statistics to be difficult, you shouldn’t have trouble with the math in an epidemiology MPH program. Some people just really have a hard time wrapping their heads around statistics, and they would find epidemiology painful. There are advanced epi methods that are pretty math-intense, but that does not need to be part of an MPH (or even PhD) in epidemiology.

          1. TR*

            Oh, something else that’s good about going the MPH in epidemiology route is that you can take it in so many directions when you graduate. Even if you focus on GIS or M&E in the program, you don’t need to be limited to that if you find it’s not the right fit. Public health careers are long and winding!

    6. Kaitlyn*

      I just finished my GIS course, and I’m not employed in the field yet, but I can tell you what kind of programming I had to do.
      There was actually a pretty heavy emphasis on database languages and OOP in the course I took at a college here in Canada. I learned SQL, VB.NET, Python (pretty important one), HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. JavaScript is essential if you want to start creating your own Google Maps apps, which actually ended up being my favorite part of the course.

    7. U of R grad*

      Anonymous for this one.

      I went to the University of Redlands, which has a great GIS program. I got to interact with the students on various occasions while in college, and they were all very professional and interesting people. The facilities are really neat, and I think a lot of their work centered around the nearby wilderness, with collaborations with faculty from various departments on campus (business, history, etc.).

      I’m NOT a GIS expert by any means, but I just wanted to throw that suggestion out there. The U of R is very generous with financial aid, if that’s a factor in your decision. :)

    8. themmases*

      I just completed an MS Epi in the spring and am starting a PhD in cancer epidemiology in the fall. I used GIS *extensively* for my thesis and it’s what I get paid to do now as an analyst for my advisor.

      If you are in public health and have any interest in GIS, learn it. It’s getting big and it’s not going away. However, not all programs are ready yet. Look at the course offerings in all the school’s divisions, because GIS could really fit anywhere. Look for schools that also have some kind of planning or policy school. It will affect the courses available to you, and will make it more likely that the public health faculty use GIS and are engaged in collaborations using spatial data.

      You won’t need stats or programming knowledge to start using a program like ArcMap at a basic level. A good intro course will teach you how to write the basic SQL queries you will probably need, data management and documentation practices, and that will be a good enough foundation. You can do a lot of amazing things with ArcGIS without knowing Python. There are already tools for most things you can think of, a Model Builder for linking them if you don’t want to code, and a healthy user community making add-ons. You can learn Python later if GIS becomes important to you.

      I saw you also asked about how to know whether epi is right for you. I chose it after working in research because I liked designing studies using observational data (medical records). I liked figuring out what we could prove with the data available to us, and how to put together different resources to make new information. I like puzzles and thinking abstractly. What I didn’t have and didn’t need: a lot of existing stats knowledge; a lot of existing programming knowledge. Even in epi, my intro courses were suitable for someone without previous coursework in stats or programming. Most programs told me the same thing when I inquired.

      Epidemiologists are definitely not statisticians! We still depend on real statisticians all the time. What we are is experts in research methods as applied to understanding human health. I would say research study design is our real skill that we own. Other than that, it’s *applied* statistics in areas where there is a well-accepted analytic approach to the problem; and any other technical skills that happen to be important in your chosen practice area. You have the freedom to seek topics that marry your technical strengths and your content-area interest.

      1. Mela*

        Wow, your last two paragraphs are incredibly helpful. For some reason I envisioned Epidemiology as crunching numbers all day long. Despite not struggling in math, I was so disinterested in number crunching that I wrote off more fields than I apparently should have!

        1. vpc*

          Epi is way more investigational than number crunching! Unless you’re a field epi investigating outbreaks. But even that, the number crunching is more often a way to prove something that you know anecdotally to be true from your conversations with people in the community (so you set up a research study to test the assumption).

    9. wet gremlin*

      The programming requirement really depends on how you’re going to be using GIS. Unless you’re developing applications, no code skills are necessary. The query tools in the major GIS programs use SQL statements, but also typically are constructed to walk you through creating the query, as long you have the basics of logic down. Python is useful in automating some tedious data management tasks for GIS, but it’s far from necessary. I’m still trying to get into R, so I can’t comment much there.

      I wholeheartedly agree with the poster above who said this should be a tool in your toolbox, not an entire direction of focus. Take it from someone who has their concentration in GIS and wishes every day she did it as an adjunct to something else.

      1. Mela*

        That’s really interesting to hear, as I usually never hear regret from someone who’s taken a science/math direction. What would you have chosen to do instead? Either from available concentrations at your program or any concentration anywhere?

    10. S*

      I would say if you’re looking to stay in public health and gain some GIS skills then you might want to look into a GIS certificate program rather than a masters. But if you’re interested in switching fields and becoming a GIS professional (not just a basic user) then a masters would be the way to go. GIS is such a broad field ranging from a basic user drawing lines in ArcMap to advanced data analysis, database/server management, web map development. SQL, python, and JavaScript are good to have some knowledge of. Also, being knowledgeable of some open sources like quantumGIS or grass can be beneficial in organizationa that don’t have much money to spend on GIS.

      1. Mela*

        A GIS certificate sounds like a great balance. I’d probably consider it post-MPH, if I have the inclination for more schooling at some point. Any recommendations on cert programs? Also great point about open source software, that can be really valuable down the line.

    11. vpc*

      I will say that M&E is in high demand in public health, and most of the grad programs I’ve seen require at least one or two M&E classes. My MPH is in “Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior”, which is a fairly academic way of saying “program planning and implementation / management”. I took a GIS class through the School of Geography, and it was probably the most practical of the classes I took in grad school. I also concentrated my electives in epidemiology. What I don’t do, and haven’t done since I finished my thesis work, is any actual epidemiology / statistics / GIS mapping.

      What my epi and GIS courses allowed me to do, as a public health program manager, is know the capabilities of my statisticians and geographers so that I can ask the right questions. Those courses also taught me how to interpret the results those specialists provide me, so that I can make informed decisions about program direction.

      In other words: do it all!! Look for a solid degree that will give you the credentials to run a program start to finish: objectives, proposals, monitoring performance, evaluating outcomes. Make sure you learn enough about specialties while you’re at it that you know when you’re in over your head and what kind of expert you need to hire.

  5. Asking for a friend...*

    Job seeking in the EU

    My friend is American and she married her German partner to be able to move to the EU to be with him. He’s German and working in Switzerland, so she’s been applying for jobs in those two countries. She’s looking for tweaks she can make so that she decreases the risk of being rejected as someone seeking a visa sponsorship.

    I suggested a line in her cover letter stating she’s planning to move to join family and that she has full working rights. I also suggested she use her husband’s address in Switzerland on her CV, but he said she couldn’t do that as it wasn’t true. (Any feedback on that? Both she and I are really skeptical)

    She was thinking about “adding” his German last name for the German applications, but she never legally changed her name and doesn’t want to be called by his last name, so I suggested that she skip that one. Anything else she can do to assure employers that she has full working rights and won’t need sponsorship? She speaks intermediate German and fluent French, so I can’t see anything else that she can do other than quitting her job here in the US and leaving without a new job lined up. I’m thinking her profile or summary at the top needs to be really on point, but I’m not sure what exactly it should look like.

    1. Gaia*

      For me I would want to see right away that she isn’t seeking sponsorship. So perhaps right at the top of the documents make a mention of it?

      1. The Friend*

        What specific wording would you suggest? Say she has a 3 line summary/profile. Should the visa line be first or last?

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          I moved to the UK with a Swedish partner and I note “I am authorised to work in the UK for any employer and do not require sponsorship” under my name and address details in my header. You could also put it in black italics possibly under the summary.

          I seem to remember reading somewhere that German CVs tend to have a lot of personal information on them and like to have a photograph too! Is her format correct?

          1. Schmitt (in Germany)*

            It’s pretty ridiculous but yes, almost all resumes are sent with photos. For what it’s worth I got my first two jobs with an American-style resume, the novelty of having an American apply clearly outweighed the lack of photo!

            I reluctantly switched to with-photo for my last job search because I was planning to apply for government jobs which are a bit more stodgy. I didn’t add any other personal information – but I’ve seen resumes with religion, # of kids, parents’ professions, siblings’ professions….

      2. Mander*

        It’s obvious if you look at my CV that I am an immigrant so I point out explicitly that I am now a British citizen. I used to put that information in my cover letter but now it’s at the top of my CV under my name (just “Dual citizen: UK and USA”).

        It hasn’t been an issue recently but in the past when I applied for jobs, even though I explained in the cover letter that I had leave to remain and didn’t need sponsorship, people expressed a worry that I wasn’t legally allowed to work for them. So I decided to err on the side of blindingly obvious.

        I think I’d listen to what the husband says about the address, because he has better insight into the culture there. But I’d also explain in the letter that she is moving to XZY address as of this date.

    2. Triceratops*

      Using the Swiss address is the best way to go. What makes it feel “not true” to her? That she hasn’t moved yet? If she can receive mail there, I think it’s fine.

      1. The Friend*

        She and I both think it’s perfectly fine to use the address. It’s the husband that thinks it’s a false declaration, and we’re both hesitant to argue that point because he’s the one who lives/works there and we’ve both never sought work in the country. So we’re taking his word for it but I don’t think we should. Any resources out there that can confirm using his address is ok?

        1. BRR*

          This would be ok in the US but I wonder if it’s different in Europe. I would seek out more than one opinion on it.

          I would absolutely put in the cover letter that she’s moving soon and doesn’t need sponsorship. One sentence saying she’s relocating soon (date if possible) to join family and doesn’t need a visa sponsorship should suffice.

          1. Pineapple Incident*

            There’s a chance that if her hubster thinks using his address is disingenuous that it might come across to employers there that way as well- no telling how different job searching is there from the U.S.

            Not needing sponsorship would definitely be the sticking point she wants to highlight- just word it in such a way that emphasizes the move is imminent and soon.

            1. The Friend*

              That’s what I’m thinking. It would be one thing if she were unemployed and physically in the US and using the Swiss address, but she’s definitely working in the US, so it’s sort of obvious that she’s not living at the Swiss address. But I’m wondering if that’s overthinking it?

              1. Another Academic Librarian*

                Perhaps she could list both addresses? That way she could signify that she has concrete plans to move to and live in Switzerland without appearing disingenuous when hiring managers realize she is still working in the US.

              2. BRR*

                Also if she lists the Swiss address there might be an expectation of interviewing on short notice.

              3. bridget*

                This is totally within the US, but I am on the west coast and sometimes get applications from law students who are currently in school on the east coast, but want to show a local connection to my office. They often list two addresses, listing the east coast/school address as “Current Address” and the west coast address (usually I assume it’s their parents, but it could be a spouse) as their “Permanent Address.” This on the resume, combined with a line in the cover letter stating that she will be moving to switzerland to join her family soon (can she provide a precise date?) would do the trick for me.

        2. roisindubh211*

          She can put a “residing from XX 2016” date there, and note that she can receive post at the address.

        3. insert name here*

          I used to live in Switzerland. I wouldn’t necessarily use the address before living there, because in Switzerland there’s a fairly formal process of registering at an address and as part of the address’s formal “commune” (not like a hippie commune…it’s just the translation of the technical term for the community). It would arguably be a false declaration as her husband says.

          1. Mean Something*

            This is an important point! She doesn’t want to imply that she’s already registered. Your comment explains why the husband is reluctant to have her put the address.

          2. The Friend*

            Thank you! This is the cultural insight we were looking for. So does that mean it’s similar like putting your name on a lease, except it’s registered with the municipal government? Or is it something the apartment building coordinates in a more formal way?

            1. insert name here*

              It’s kind of like putting your name on a lease and then registering it with the municipal government, yes. I remember having to go to the commune office in person and declare myself and register. And then when I left the country, I had to formally register that too.

    3. Allison*

      It should definitely be in the cover letter or on the resume. I vet candidates from Canada and not needing all the visa paperwork completed by my company is a big plus.

      Does she plan on living in Switzerland with her husband? Is that the area she is job hunting? Then I would put the address down as her own.

      1. The Friend*

        What wording would you suggest as the most helpful on your end? She does plan on living with him and is applying to things nearby where he lives. She and I both think it’s perfectly fine to use the address. It’s the husband that thinks it’s a false declaration, and we’re both hesitant to argue that point because we’ve both never sought work in the country. So we’re taking his word for it but I’m not sure we should. Any resources out there that can confirm using his address is ok?

    4. Sawcebox*

      I was in a similar situation, and in addition to mentioning it in the cover letter, I wrote something to the effect of “legally eligible to work in Country” right up there with the vital statistics (phone number, address, etc.) on my CV. She might want to also mention the visa type, but I think that could be covered in the cover letter.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      I hire technical folk in the US, but it’s super common for foreign applicants to explicitly state their visa status immediately below their name on their resumes. I’d put something like:

      Jane Doe
      Legal resident and authorized for work in the EU and Switzerland

      1. The Friend*

        But is she a legal permanent resident if she’s living and working elsewhere? Her marriage allows her to apply for a visa that will automatically get approved, but I don’t think she actually has that yet. Apparently it would take ~6 weeks to process? But this is info from the husband and I’m not sure where he’s getting that info from.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          If she’s still living elsewhere, go with legal resident (relocating to Geneva, Swizterland September 2016), work visa pending, no sponsorship required. Keep in mind though that many jobs are hiring because they need someone now, not in 2 months. She should probably start working on the visa ASAP.

        2. Sawcebox*

          I have applied for spousal visas in two different EU countries and both times it took around six months (which was the maximum it could legally take at the time, as per EU regulations, if the European spouse was not a citizen of that particular EU country). Hopefully your friend’s husband knows better than I do about her particular situation (and I know Switzerland is special/not part of the EU :-)), but if they have never done this before, they may be in for a longer wait than they anticipated.

          As to using the Swiss address, it is my understanding that many European countries have a different attitude towards one’s official residence than we are used to in most English-speaking countries. I mean legally. In husband’s home country (not Switzerland or Germany, to be fair) you must file documents declaring that you are changing your legal residence every time you move, even if it’s across the street, and you can only have one legal residence at a time, be that in the country or abroad. These records are kept by local councils or counties or whatever. I don’t know why :-) So it doesn’t seem so odd to me that your friend’s husband is hesitant to let her use the Swiss address in a semi-official capacity such as a job application. But as I said, I have no personal experience living in Germany or in Switzerland.

          1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

            It is the same in Germany. It is used to dertemine some stuff. Like where to file tax returns (and how much you are able to deduct on your tax returns for commute) voting registration and so forth

    6. UK JAM*

      I’ve often seen CVs (resumes) that have a little section at the top with titles like visa status, languages, nationality and I find that helpful. It might also have something like “Location: Relocating to Switzerland Fall 2016” or something like that.

    7. Meeeeeeeee*

      I also think she can just use the Swiss address, and then also mention in her cover letter somehow the existence of the German husband.

      1. Liane*

        I think the husband would be covered by the line that she is moving to join family. Before saying she was joining her husband explicitly, she should check that is acceptable in Europe.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      I don’t think it would be weird to write “I am a permanent EU resident/citizen and do not need visa sponsorship” in the cover letter. I would also put that on the resume in lieu of the “objective” section, right up top.

    9. Mander*

      It’s obvious if you look at my CV that I am an immigrant so I point out explicitly that I am now a British citizen. I used to put that information in my cover letter but now it’s at the top of my CV under my name (just “Dual citizen: UK and USA”).

      It hasn’t been an issue recently but in the past when I applied for jobs, even though I explained in the cover letter that I had leave to remain and didn’t need sponsorship, people expressed a worry that I wasn’t legally allowed to work for them. So I decided to err on the side of blindingly obvious.

      I think I’d listen to what the husband says about the address, because he has better insight into the culture there. But I’d also explain in the letter that she is moving to XZY address as of this date.

  6. Offensive Caller*

    I apologize in advance for the length of this.

    My husband is a tech support analyst and takes calls from internal employees who work face to face with clients. This week he had an offensive call that upset him and me when he told me about it.

    My husband got a call from this guy, who I will call Henry. Henry was immediately argumentative, cutting off my husband and asking his name, which he was just about to give. When Henry heard it he immediately groaned and asked if he speaks English. My husband has a very “non-American” name. Not that it matters, but he does speak English. He was born in the US and does not have an accent. You cannot hear him and think for a second that he doesn’t know how to speak English. So it was clear from the start that Henry was purposely being difficult.

    Henry goes on to ramble on about having talked with several other people from Guatemala who did not speak English and wasted his time. They do not have a call center in Guatemala. All of their locations are within the US and for the particular matter he was calling in for, he would have reached the same location where my husband works in the Northeast. While there are employees who speak other languages, there are none that don’t also speak clear English. But still, Henry harped on this for several minutes.

    This guy then went on to make sexist comments about his assistant, who he described as intoxicated at one point. He vey loudly asserted to her, while laughing, that yes my husband spoke English and that “after those Costa Rican people they finally sent me to the right place”. So first the last people he talked to were from Guatemala and now Costa Rica. Further proof this guy is an ass. And there were a few other gems I’m not remembering off the top of my head.

    Perhaps most oddly, Henry told my husband about how one of his kids (who happened to be in the room at the moment) had just found his pass from the Republican National Convention that he attended when Mitt Romney was running for President. Then loudly reminded his kid they were Republican, just like their whole family were Republicans.

    Now, I don’t want to turn this into a political debate so lets not go there. I am not at all saying that this is a description of all Republicans. I know many who do not behave this way. I’m only talking about this guy. But I mention this because considering the current political climate, with immigration outrage and deportation being one of the main talking points from some of the Republican side, in combination with all of the other remarks from Henry, it felt (to me anyway) like another way to shove his xenophobic views down my husband’s throat, who he clearly suspected was not American.

    Henry did not call into another center in another country and speak with anyone who couldn’t speak English before speaking with my husband. The only thing that could have prompted these comments was hearing anything other than an “American” name when my husband answered the phone.

    At this point I do want to mention that my husband is Hispanic. His father was born and raised in Honduras and then became a naturalized citizen of the US. He was in the US military and served this country for 35 years until the day he died. Obviously, even if that weren’t true, the way Henry behaved was offensive. But for this man to repeatedly imply that my husband and his family are not American, simply because of his name, just angers me so much.

    I really want him to bring this up to his managers. I think its important. Not only should no one be subjected to that at work but Henry is a face of this company and who knows what he is saying to clients. More than that though, I think it’s important we don’t stay quiet about these things. He should speak up, not just for himself and his family, not just for our young daughter who is also Hispanic (who looks white and will likely never be subjected to racism, but who will one day know she is indeed Hispanic), but for all minorities, particularly for those who cannot speak up for themselves. And because things like this will never change if we don’t.

    Additionally, my husband also looks white (not that Henry knew that). He is not subjected to racism every day the way he would be if his skin were darker. His employer probably doesn’t realize he is Hispanic either. It is sad to say but I think that gives him a bit more sway because people listen to white people more. Wrong as it is, it’s going to take white people raising the issue more before others will really start to listen and make changes.

    Admittedly, I am angry about this and about what is going on in our country right now. I don’t want to politicize my husbands job but at the same time I don’t think this is just politics. So I thought I would post this and see what you all think. Am I reaching and connecting dots that aren’t there simply because he mentioned the Republican aspect? Should my husband bring it up with his manager? If so, how? What is the best way to deal with this kind of inappropriate behavior in the workplace?

    1. Dawn*

      Sticking to the facts and leaving out the politics:

      – Is essentially a co-worker of your husband, since they work for the same company
      – Asked your husband if he spoke English after hearing his foreign-sounding name
      – Made disparaging comments about other tech support people who did not speak English well
      – Made sexist remarks about his assistant to your husband (you didn’t elaborate what those were)

      I think that this is enough red flags for you husband to ask his boss about what to do at the very least. If Henry has a history of making racist or sexist comments to tech support when he calls in, it would be good to get notes put in his customer file so multiple incidents can be brought to Henry’s manager’s attention (or HR’s attention.)

      1. Offensive Caller*

        Thanks. This is smart to take the politics out of it. I know I am angry so I needed a different perspective.

      2. BRR*

        This is what I would do. No politics. I might bring it up to my manager and give her a quick opportunity to escalate it or if not then add in “I just wanted to let you know since I will be filing a formal complaint with HR.”

      3. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, if this is an “internal employee,” I would definitely report this to HR or at least, if not Henry’s supervisor, the husband’s own supervisor. Someone has to know about this. I don’t think this should even be acceptable for an outward client, but an internal employee? Hell, no!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think the best way to deal with this kind of inappropriate behavior is for each employee to feel empowered to politely say, “You cannot speak to me like this, and I am going to end this call now.” This is something your husband can bring up to his supervisor, and if a script for these types of situations does not already exist, they should work to develop one. Your husband should also feel empowered to escalate these kinds of calls to whoever is above him, and hopefully that person will say, “You cannot speak to my employees this way.”

    3. the.kat*

      What does your husband want to do and what outcome are you hoping for? Do you want Henry fired? Do you want Henry to apologize?

      Henry sounds like an ass. He also sounds like the kind of barnyard animal who isn’t going to change his stripes because someone that he talked to on the phone complained about him. If anything, getting punished for “speaking his mind” will make him more likely to blame your husband for being PC than to see what he’s saying is wrong. I can’t tell you that your husband shouldn’t say anything, but I think you (and he) should consider the possible outcomes and make sure you know what you want to happen before you go any further.

      1. Offensive Caller*

        I genuinely want my husband to make his own decision about this. He seems hesitant and I don’t want to push him. But he was very curious to see what the responses here would be as well and do think he is thinking about it.

        As far as ramifications for Henry, we both just wanted the behavior to stop. The calls are recorded and randomly reviewed by managers so there is room for them to raise this without it seeming like my husband is the one who brought it up.

        1. Artemesia*

          Because he works for the same company, I would bring it up and ask for the interaction to be reviewed by HR or his manager. If it were a customer it would be trickier — then he would need to be empowered by his manager to terminate abusive calls.

      2. designbot*

        To me the best outcome would be that if any other complaints came in about Henry (say from that assistant he’s harassing), that there would be documentation to support that Henry has a track record of this stuff.

      3. MashaKasha*

        This ass works face to face with clients. His conduct during that call was the height of unprofessionalism. If that’s how he talked to a colleague, he’s likely to do the same to a client. I’ve never reported anyone to the management in my 20+ year career, but I’d consider it in this case. I’d leave the consequences up to Henry’s manager. But Henry’s manager deserves to know one of his employees is a ticking, racist, sexist, belligerent bomb.

    4. Vanesa*

      I don’t really know what I would do in that situation – I am also American born Hispanic who is white and has an American sounding last name, so I don’t experience things like this very often – but I would be very upset if this happened to me.

      The only thing I can think of us it to maybe bring it up to his boss casually and see how his boss reacts or maybe if his manager can recommend anything.

      But this reminds me of a time I went to the bank with my mom when I was younger and after speaking to my mom for about two seconds the teller went and called another teller to speak to my mom in Spanish because “she couldn’t understand her”. My mom came to the US when she was 12 years old and speaks perfect English (with a slight accent). We were in so much shock we didn’t know what to say.

      1. Offensive Caller*

        Wow. I always think about what it must be like for children to see that happening to their parents. Makes me sad. My husband has both a non-american sounding first and last name. He gets this a lot more over the phone than in person.

      2. oldfashionedlovesong*

        The same thing happens to my parents and me all the time. My family is of South Asian descent but my parents have lived in the US for 30 years and are US citizens, and I was born here. My parents speak English perfectly – if anything, they have slight British accents because that’s how English was and is taught where they grew up. Maybe 50% of the time, when we are in a store or public place and my parents ask an employee something, the employee will turn to me and expect me to repeat what they said. Sometimes they indicate the request nonverbally, by ignoring my parents, other times they will say out loud, “What did he/she say?” and expect the conversation to continue with me while my parents stand there.

        When I was younger, I used to be swayed by this and actually would feel embarrassed by my parents. Now that I’m older and know better, and have experienced this kind of subtle racism on my own during university and grad school and in the work world, this infuriates me. So now I will say something like “My mom is the one who asked for help, not me” or “You can speak to her” and stand there silently.

        In ways both big and small, I think we all need to stand up for our parents or spouses or even strangers on the street when they are treated this way, because it’s not right, and the weight of these tiny things over a lifetime can make you internalize these messages.

        1. Vanesa*

          Yes I agree! I know many people who came to the US when they were older and have an accent when they speak English and people treat them like they are stupid! It very frustrating and hurtful to see. I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood so I do have a slight accent and tend to use words or phrases that aren’t exactly professional and I sometimes feel self-conscious about that, but it’s how I grew up speaking until I went to college actually. I know how to write proper English and business e-mails, but when I speak it sometimes doesn’t sound very professional.

          1. UnCivilServant*

            I would like to present another angle to the discussion.

            In my office we have one employee who is very good at what he does, but was a late immigrant. When I started, I literally could not understand a word he said. This led to at least one awkward moment when he’d come to my cube to discuss something and I was left unable to know how to respond because I couldn’t understand him. My supervisor thought I was being absurd when I brought up the difficulty I was having in a later one on one (the individual in question was not present) because he’d been there for years. Having been around this person for a while I no longer have the same problem. I’ve come to realize that the reason my supervisor didn’t believe me was that he (and everyone else) had grown accustomed to the speech patterns and accent of said co-worker.

            I wonder now what some of those earlier moments would look like to a third party, or worse, to a co-worker who had become accustomed to the accent/cadence. Would I be seen as the disrespectful party for the long delay in figuring out what had been said or the requests for him to repeat himself?

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Let’s not conflate politely conveyed communication issues with accents with overt racism. Henry was a purposely, provocatively offensive and crude jerk to his coworker, and I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you reacted nothing like he did. Even if he had a valid communication issue, which I doubt after hearing his rantings and suppositions about people based on nothing but national origin, he presented a much, much bigger and more important workplace issue by overreacting and creating a hostile environment for minorities.

              1. UnCivilServant*

                I was weighing in on the side thread about general communications and was wondering things like “How many people are so accustomed to talking to person X that they don’t realize random strangers might actually not be able to understand them that well?”

                I don’t have any input of note on the Henry discussion.

                1. Offensive Caller*

                  I think its safe to assume that anyone with an accent is probably aware of the fact that not everyone will understand them. I work with a woman who lives in Italy and despite the fact that I lived there for a bit when I was in college and have a basic understanding of the language, I find her accent to be difficult to understand. When I’m having difficulty I just outright say “I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty understanding” and she will slow down for me a bit. Sometimes she will say words in Italian and I look them up and other times she asks me to slow down because I’m speaking too fast. My accent can be difficult for her two.

                  I think the point here is that you don’t treat someone as if they are the problem because they have an accent. You find a way to communicate together. If you let your coworker walk away thinking you understood something that you didn’t, that doesn’t help anyone.

                2. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  Ah, I agree that that’s a very valid point, that it’s not just the degree or strength of the accent, but whether the ear of the listener is attuned to that accent. For some reason I have a really bad time processing accents of any kind, even regional US accents. Once I recognize the accent pattern, it gets much better, but even then I sometimes get really stuck on a word. I’m much more of a visual-spatial learner, and learn much better when reading than I do when listening.

                3. Observer*

                  There are also appropriate ways to deal with it. Treating someone with an accent like they are stupid or somehow inferior the second you hear the accent is simply inexcusable. Turning to the child first thing instead of trying to work with the person is also as rude as it gets. People with accents KNOW that they have the accent. If you ask them to slow down, they generally get it.

                  A relative of mine who is from Canada went to get his green card. He came home and said that he was appalled at what he saw and heard. If you had an accent like his, which sounds “educated” the staff was reasonably polite. If you had a hispanic accent, they treated you like garbage. It was not a matter of non-understandable accents. If he, a total stranger who was either behind or to the side of the speakers (depending on the line they were in), could understand what they were saying, they were speaking clearly enough!

            2. Reba*

              As long as you were polite, kind, and made an effort, no.

              It sounds like you handled it professionally—unlike the other examples commenters are sharing here, where people exaggerated the difficulty of a perceived accent or overemphasized racial or national difference as an excuse to be rude and/or not do their work properly.

              For me, laughing together about accent-related misunderstandings has been the entryway to some friendships with people from other countries. (Not in a work setting though, I can understand how that might add stress to interactions.)

            3. Vanesa*

              I think it depends on your tone and how you talk to the person and others will notice that as well. As long as your polite and respectful there is nothing wrong with it.

              I think you have a point though that as we continue to speak to people who have an accent we get used to the way they speak it communication becomes easier.

            4. CM*

              I think it’s really about tone. If you act annoyed and say, “I can’t understand a word you’re saying,” bad. If you say, “I didn’t catch that, could you say it one more time, please?” I think it’s fine. Sometimes it’s legitimately hard for people to understand each other’s speech and that’s no big deal as long as everyone is patient about it. I wouldn’t worry about sounding disrespectful if your tone to your supervisor was more, “It’s hard for me to understand what Bob says, do you have any ideas for how I could deal with that?” and not “I can’t understand a word Bob says, how am I supposed to work with him??”

            5. Observer*

              Please, when this stuff happens to people who have been speaking English all their lives or since they are young teens, the problem is NOT the accent. When someone asks someone if they can speak English when they hear a non-american name, that’s not because there is an accent.

            6. Mander*

              Well, that’s a pretty different situation. It’s one thing to tell someone you don’t quite understand their accent and politely ask them to repeat or rephrase, and it’s quite another to make assumptions about their intelligence based on that accent.

              Hell, it took me years to be able to properly understand my husband, and he’s got a fairly generic accent from the south of England. It’s not even Cockney or Geordie or Somerset. I once had a manager from New Hampshire and my southwestern self could only understand a third of what she said. Living in south London I run into many people that I have a hard time understanding. But asking someone nicely to repeat themselves is different from getting huffy that they don’t speak with the same accent as you.

        2. Crylo Ren*

          I love this response, especially your last point. I have the same reaction when I see my parents get treated like they don’t belong here (even though they’ve been here 30+ years and my dad served in the US Navy), but I’ve never known how to be productive about my rage.

        3. nonegiven*

          We have to use captions for Game of Thrones because we can’t understand the accents without.

        4. TootsNYC*

          Maybe 50% of the time, when we are in a store or public place and my parents ask an employee something, the employee will turn to me and expect me to repeat what they said.

          I so very much want you to say to the store clerk, quizzically, “Don’t you speak English?”

          1. Mander*


            Please, please do this. And post the interaction on YouTube. (Actually don’t really, I just want to see the look on someone’s face when you ask them.)

      3. CM*

        Ugh, similar things have happened to me with people hearing my name or seeing the color of my skin and saying, “I can’t deal with this, I need someone who speaks English.” (Me: born and raised in the US, product of NY public schools, no trace of a foreign accent.)

        Good thing we live in a post-racial society!

      4. designbot*

        I just want to mention that one way to think of this is that the person on the other end of the conversation has a particularly hard time with accents. I’m a bit like this, some people that others appear to understand just fine are completely incomprehensible to me (particularly people who speak quickly or run their words together a little). I know this is my problem not theirs, but the result is the same in that I wind up asking them to repeat themselves way too much. It’s actually really embarrassing for me as well as them, as I feel totally stupid in the moment! I’m not defending exaggerated actions like that bank teller, just putting it out there that some of us who can’t understand what others consider a slight accent know it’s us.

        1. designbot*

          and I should add: I’m sorry that my own poor understanding and that of anyone with a similar issue contributes to an overall climate where anyone feels unwelcome.

        2. Observer*

          One way you could help is to acknowledge it. If you say something like “I’m sorry, I have a bit of a problem hearing different accents” that shifts things A LOT.

        3. STX*

          Have you had a hearing test recently? My husband has a hard time with accents, because he is losing his hearing in the vocal range. For an accent he’s familiar with, his brain apparently fills in and guesses at words unconsciously. It’s not bad enough to require hearing aids yet, but people have been pretty accommodating when he says, “Sorry, I’m a bit deaf, can you repeat that a little slower?” That clarifies that his misunderstanding is his problem, not theirs.

    5. Mela*

      First, I completely agree with everything you’ve written. You’re right to be upset. However, this is your husband’s job, so he has to make the decision to speak up. If he’s unsure if it’s a valid concern, he can hear from me and I’m sure dozens of other commenters that it is indeed perfectly acceptable to raise this issue.

      I would talk to either HR or his manager about it. Start by talking about how he’s not sure how to handle an abusive internal call after the fact. He can describe what happened as dispassionately as possible. Being subjected to this kind of talk as a Hispanic person was inappropriate, to say the least, and it felt like harassment based on national origin. The company has a duty to protect workers from harassment like this, so hopefully that’s all that’s needed from him to get the ball rolling. Good luck and I hope all works out!

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      In a well-managed support/call center, your husband should have been trained in when it is OK to end a call. Many (crappy) call centers absolutely have a blanket prohibition on the CSR hanging up first, which is ridiculous. There should be a policy or proper training for handling difficult calls. My preferred technique is to ask them to please stop referring to X or even please keep the call confined to business, not personal issues, or you’ll have to end the call, then after 2-3 warnings like that, do it without saying anything more. The other (that I don’t like, but some managers might insist on) is to keep guiding them back, even by interrupting and saying “So, what was the technical issue that you called about?” or “So did you have a question for me about [support area]?”

      I wish him luck, and just remember, part of being a paid CSR is to be helpful and professional, even when you don’t want to do so. But taking abuse shouldn’t be part of the job description.

      1. Vanesa*

        I think it is very sad that people in customer service have to take so much abuse from customers. I am sure they get sick of it. I think for the most part they try to shrug it off, but sometimes it can be emotionally draining.

        1. Jennifer*

          My motto is “I am here to take abuse with a smile.” Because frankly, that is how it works.

        2. Mander*

          Honestly I think that the abuse I took in working as a CSR nearly 20 years ago made a major contribution to my lifelong depression issues.

    7. Observer*

      I haven’t read the comments yet (no time) so I suspect that some of what I am going to say is a repeat.

      I agree, your husband should let HR know.

      Stick to the facts. And stick to the RELEVANT facts – his stupid comments about being a Republican are totally not relevant. Calling his secretary drunk and other sexist comment – Relevant. Also, important because it show a pattern. Making an issue of your husband’s last name – Relevant. Complaining about the lack of competence and English fluency at non-existent call centers – Relevant. Etc.

      Your husband’s communication with HR should calm and stick to the issue(s) directly relevant to the business. No political or social commentary. It comes down to the fact that this person made racist comments to him and sexist comments about his assistant. This is a problem for your husband, and for the company because employees who have to work with or for him could really feel harassed by someone like this. And, since he’s customer facing, the chances of him saying something offensive to someone who “looks” like “one his own” but really isn’t is quite high. And, the customer may never tell the company, but WILL tell others. Not good for business.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Seconding all of this.
        I think HR should get involved, not only on your husband’s behalf, but they should also talk with Henry’s assistant and on-site co-workers. It sounds like she may be subjected to harassment on a daily basis and that Henry is creating toxic, bigoted environment for everyone within earshot. It sounds like Henry must be some kind of rainmaker who thinks the rules don’t apply to him because of his sales numbers, etc. – well, they do, because Henry is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      2. Offensive Caller*

        I totally agree with you on the Republican comment not being relevant. I actually told him not to bring that up. They will listen to the call anyway. I just added it here to give a full picture of what my husband experienced.

        1. MashaKasha*

          Yes, I wanted to add that. That was irrelevant and unprofessional of Henry to randomly go there during a support call.

          I’ve been spoiled in that area, in the sense that, my last few jobs, there was/is a policy of not discussing politics and religion in the workplace. I’m now bewildered when someone does, like they just started spilling their guts about sex life to their officemates. I’m so used to these subjects never coming up at work.

    8. Kobayashi*

      If your husband has a good relationship with his supervisor, then if I were in his shoes, I’d bring this topic up with my supervisor. I’d let him or her know what happened and go from there. Obviously, if Henry is this adamant about proclaiming his views, it’s likely he’s saying these things to other people. If enough people offer similar complaints about him (or if someone reviews the recording), then hopefully some action will be taken against him — not to make him change his views, but to make him either change his conduct in the workplace or remove him from the workplace so others aren’t subjected to that type of environment.

      1. TootsNYC*

        If that supervisor is relatively decent, one approach might be to say, “I had an upsetting exchange yesterday, and I also think that person’s actions might be a problem for the comopany. I’m not sure what to do about it.” And wait for suggestions.

  7. Temporarily Anon*

    I have an interview next week for a job I’m really excited about. If all goes well, how much notice should I give? Here are my considerations:

    1) I work for a small business in an important role. I’d been planning to give one month of notice so that there would be time for a smooth transition.
    2) However, my boss has been known to cut short people’s notice periods. I’ve only seen him do this with people who were leaving on bad terms or leaving after a PIP, but I realized I’ve never seen a long-term employee leave on good terms, so I don’t know how he would react.
    3) To complicate matters, we have a major event coming up in the next couple of months. (Think hosting a conference.) I’m not directly involved, but it’s likely to be an all-hands-on-deck situation and a stressful time for my boss. I don’t think it’s fair for me to leave in the month before the event happens, but if the interview goes well and I get an offer quickly, should I try to get out before then? Even if it means a shorter notice period than I’d otherwise give?

    1. Dawn*

      #1: 1 month is a courtesy, but ONLY give that notice if your new job is cool with it. Ask New Job for permission to give a month’s notice- when they ask you when you can start, say “I would like to give my Old Job a month’s notice if it’s possible for you, New Job, as a professional courtesy and to ensure a smooth transition.”
      #2: Be prepared to jump ship earlier than the end of your notice period when you give your notice.

      1. Pwyll*

        +1 to all of this. 2 weeks notice, but offer 1 month as a kindness and a courtesy only if it won’t hurt your offer with new job, and by being prepared to be let go earlier.

      2. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

        I left a job after 10 years in the middle of our busiest season and only gave two week’s notice. I had almost expected them to (and mentally prepared myself that they might) ask me to stay for a third but it was never even questioned or brought up.

        I had a colleague that was there for 9 years and gave three weeks’ notice and ended up regretting it. When you know you are leaving as much as you try not to and want to help your team…your mentality changes. Don’t punish yourself by giving an unnecessary extended notice period.

      3. Artemesia*

        I would not give the transition a moment’s thought beyond doing your best in the time you have to facilitate it. Especially given the boss’s previous mistreatment of people giving notice, I would give the standard two weeks notice and indicate you will be glad to create documentation or discuss transition with whomever will be stepping up to cover your job while they search.

        It is not NOT your problem how they manage. I would make this decision to benefit yourself and not worry about giving them more than the legal entitlement, particularly if your new workplace wants you to start quickly or if you want a week off between jobs (perfectly reasonable thing to do)

        There is some reason to bend over backward for an employer who has gone the extra mile for employees; your employer has punished people who leave by cutting them short. Screw him. But calmly and professionally.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I feel like Alison will say “there is never a good time to leave” so if you base it on that you will never leave. You need to do what is best for you and your new employer. When negotiating your start date lay out that you would ideally like to give 4 weeks notice to OldJob because of reasons X, Y, and Z – do not mention guilt over leaving a small business- but would notify them immediately if it gets cut short for any reason.
      Best thing you can do is start documenting immediately so that when you do give notice you have a plan in place for the interim.

    3. J.B.*

      Give at least two week’s notice. If the timing happens to work exactly so that you could give three week’s notice and have it be useful for the event (and you WANT to do that) great. But don’t worry too much about it. I would not shorten your notice.

    4. Ella*

      If your boss is known to cut short notice periods, I would give notice only as far in advance as I was OK being terminated. For example, if it would negatively impact me to give a month of notice, and then be out of a job for a month, I wouldn’t give a whole month. I’d just give the standard two weeks.

      1. Anonymous Educator*


        Your top priority is to look out for you. Your former co-workers and your former company come second. Not that you shouldn’t consider them, but you are first, definitely. And you should prepare for the worst-case scenario.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I also think companies that want their employees to give long notice periods need to earn that by making sure their employees know that notice will never be cut short.

    5. Goats*

      You don’t need to create a headache for yourself before you actually have enough information to make the decision. You haven’t even had the interview yet, so you don’t even know a) whether you even want this job b) whether it will be offered to you c) what their hiring timeline is.

      Source: I applied and interviewed intensely over an 8 month period last year (30 applications, interviews for 15 different positions)… and at first I did the “what if” game/timeline planning for every position and it got mentally exhausting after like 3. Eventually I got an offer and left at the worst time of the year (mid financial audit. I was managing the audit.) It wasn’t ideal, but it worked out fine for everyone. I’m very happy in my new role. The audit got done. My old boss still likes me, and has an awesome new person in my old role.

    6. BRR*

      I’m going with at least two weeks but not more than four. It will also depend on when the new place wants you to start. Don’t feel guilty about the big event and do not schedule your leave period with it in mind.

      1. MillersSpring*

        Second this. I’m sure you are a critical member of the team and that you feel personally invested in the success of the upcoming event. BUT, most conscientious people feel the same, and two weeks is still a standard notice in most industries and situations. This is particularly true if your boss has a pattern of cutting short notice periods. Do NOT feel obligated to give one month’s notice. Your new employer is anxious for you to start and may even be annoyed if you feel more obligated to OldJob rather than NewJob. Your priority needs to be with NewJob.

    7. Moonsaults*

      Please adjust your priorities accordingly. If your boss has a history of having employees leave on bad terms, it’s a two sided thing. That’s your boss, the person who signs your paychecks right now but you are not indebted to them.

      I made a mistake being too closely connected with a former employer. I gave a month and it ended up being a nightmare leaving, I truly wish I had just given a standard 2 weeks and bounced into the greener pastures.

      You are going to a new job for a reason. That’s your new priority. Whereas you want to let the new employer know that you are loyal and respectful, therefore you must give notice, giving too long of notice can be a concern. A lot of places who are hiring can give a two week cushion for a start date but much more than that, you’re going to inconvenience them!

    8. Artemesia*

      I would not give the transition a moment’s thought beyond doing your best in the time you have to facilitate it. Especially given the boss’s previous mistreatment of people giving notice, I would give the standard two weeks notice and indicate you will be glad to create documentation or discuss transition with whomever will be stepping up to cover your job while they search.

      It is not NOT your problem how they manage. I would make this decision to benefit yourself and not worry about giving them more than the legal entitlement, particularly if your new workplace wants you to start quickly or if you want a week off between jobs (perfectly reasonable thing to do)

      There is some reason to bend over backward for an employer who has gone the extra mile for employees; your employer has punished people who leave by cutting them short. Screw him. But calmly and professionally.

    9. Gaara*

      If your boss cuts people’s notice periods short, you have no obligation to give him a long notice. That means two weeks and that’s it, in my book, unless you want to have time off between jobs.

      Frankly, I’d be tempted to give less than two weeks’ notice — at least if anyone has ever given notice and then been told to leave right away, or in less than two weeks. Notice is a professional courtesy, and if they don’t handle it professionally, you don’t owe them that courtesy.

  8. Another Anon Day*

    My little brother (22) died in a car crash on the 25th last month. Today’s my first day back in the office and it’s going okay so far, but I’m having trouble focusing and feeling motivated. My contracting agency and work-site folks have been understanding and supportive, but I think getting back to work will help me in terms of distraction, feeling some sense of normalcy, etc. Anyone been through this before? Suggestions for coping and staying focused?

    I was out for a total of eight business days (some unpaid), but anticipate the possibility of needing to take a day here or there when I’m having an especially rough day. What’s reasonable in that regard?

    1. sparklealways*

      I haven’t been there, but I just wanted to express my sympathies. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I think whenever someone dies young or suddenly/unexpectedly you should be allowed to take as much time as you need, but I recognize that this isn’t the mentality of all employers. Do you have an EAP where you could seek some counseling to help you with this?

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I haven’t been there, but this happened to my close friend and coworker. Based on her experience, I’d say you’re absolutely right that it’s helpful to get back to work, and it’s normal to feel distracted. The only advice I have would be to (a) give yourself permission to take a short break if you need to (go get coffee, call your parents, whatever you need), and (b) have someone check your work for the next couple of weeks or months.

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    3. fposte*

      I’m so sorry. I agree with the above suggestions. Is there anything that isn’t too detail-oriented that you’ve been meaning to get to for a while, like shred a pile of files or clean out some shelves and drawers, or even move computer files into the proper folders? Now might be a good time for that. It’s something that might be satisfying without being too mentally taxing.

    4. Ama*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      Last year, two days after I went on a ten day vacation, my grandfather passed unexpectedly, and because of the timing of the funeral, there was no need for me to notify anyone at the office or ask for extra time off, so I didn’t. And I now wish I had told at least my boss what was going on, because the upshot of grieving during a vacation is that I really didn’t get a vacation in the usual sense (which I badly needed), and I know my work suffered for it and my boss/coworkers were probably confused why I returned from vacation and didn’t seem like I’d relaxed at all.

      Which is to say that if you do feel yourself struggling and need some more time or support, ask for it — even if you just need to ask for a work from home day or two when you’d like the distraction of work but can’t really deal with people. Unless you work for monsters, most people will understand that you are having a difficult time.

      1. EmmaLou*

        I am so sorry for your loss. I have lost my parents but not my little brother. So very hard. Go at your own pace. Be prepared for people to say incredibly stupid things while they are trying to help. Incredibly stupid. Shockingly so. My husband did lose his younger brother, but they are a less emotional family so a lot of his coping was working very hard. The first day he tried though, he just had to come back home. He was able to go back a couple of days later, but I was proud of him for knowing his limit and living it.

        When you find yourself forgetting for a few minutes that he’s gone and laughing, don’t kick yourself. Because you probably will. It’s part of the road. Or if you catch yourself whining about how the stupid store was out of Cherry Garcia! Go ahead.

        One of my coping things when I lost my dad was going to the movies. Going to. Not at home. That big screen with that surrounding noise let me step away from things for a bit and … it’s dark so no one could see if I had tears or not. I chose adventure movies and comedies. I certainly didn’t want a quiet drama.

        Again, I am so very sorry.

    5. AnAppleADay*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your little brother. So young. Sending you internet hugs.

      Everyone grieves in their own way at their own pace. Be patient and gentle with yourself. There isn’t a norm in this situation. Allowing yourself to cry when you need to cry whether or not it’s convenient will help you grieve more thoroughly than constantly fight tears and stuffing your feelings. That said, sometimes people are able to “train” themselves to compartmentalized and let loose the tears at the end of the day at home. Maybe not right away but in a few weeks.

      Hopefully you have understanding and accommodating supervisor/management. Concentration at first is going to be difficult. I tackled my most difficult tasks when I was in a pocket or zone where I was able to focus. When my mind was straying, I’d do more physical oriented tasks like makes copies, scans or filing. Mistakes will happen so I often saved documents I completed to review the following day. It was easier to catch mistakes and correct them that way.

      If you find yourself reading the same lines in the same email not being able to comprehend what you are reading, take a break or do something that gets your body moving.

      When trying to “reset” the brain, I’ve been told the side to side movement of normal walking can be beneficial. (Where you swing your arms while you walk)

      Take care.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Seconding all of this. There is no normal, and there’s no timeline of “I should be over this by now.” Allowing yourself to cry if you want to is important, as is reminding yourself that feelings come and go in waves. Taking frequent walks is really good advice.

        I’m so sorry.

    6. Pwyll*

      I’m so sorry anon. My thoughts will be with you today.

      When my brother was in his fatal car accident, I was out of it for a long time. Work absolutely helped as a distraction. I worked with a boss who was incredibly understanding (I got the call at work and he immediately told me to leave, to forget the projects I was leading, and not to look back until my family was sorted. Really fantastic.), so I spoke to him when I came back and let him know how it was affecting me, that I was looking forward to the distraction of working, but I might need some time here and there, and thanked him for understanding. They basically gave me some slack for a month or so when a few things fell through the cracks or when I needed to step away.

      I didn’t really take any additional time off in full day blocks, but once or twice I needed to leave early or come in early. I think the open communication with my boss was what made all of this okay, but that could be different depending on your boss or corporate structure.

    7. Buggy Crispino*

      I’m really very sorry for your loss. Everyone is different, and I think if you feel like you want the distraction of work, it’s perfectly fine for you to be there.

      My sister and I were very close and when she passed away I returned to work a week later. It was really hard for me, especially those first few days when everyone wanted to welcome me back and express their condolences in person. There were a few people that I was close to that I just had to say “I appreciate you so much, but I just can’t do this right now.” I think everyone pretty much understood.

      I had one coworker that I was not close to that told me a couple different times that he knew what I was going through – at the time I didn’t really comprehend what he was saying was that he wanted to help, wanted to listen, maybe even wanted to talk about his own sibling. I wish I had known then what he was getting at – I didn’t really have anyone to talk to and he probably could have been really good for me. Another coworker came over from another building on the lot every morning. The first morning he gave me a big hug and hung on for a minute while I regained control of my crying before letting go. And though physical contact like that isn’t usually a great thing at work, 8 years later I remember how much that meant to me and what a great guy he was for doing that.

      Some things I learned:
      Everyone else’s life goes on. This doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about you or don’t care. Maybe they’re doing their day to day routine but every time they pass your desk their heart breaks a little and they want to console you but know they probably shouldn’t.

      Everyone kept asking me about my mom, my sister’s husband, my sister’s daughter and I felt like even my best friends weren’t asking about me. At the time I was angry about that. I felt like “you are MY friend, MY coworker, why aren’t you being MY support system?” I realize now that was their way of being my support system. So when people ask those indirect questions understand that they really ARE thinking of you, they just don’t know how to ask without possibly making you fall apart.

      It’s okay to go sit in your car and cry on your lunch break, or other times. I found I cried a lot as I was driving to work. Not the uncontrollable crying that made it dangerous to drive, but thats kind of the time I was the most alone.

      Find a support group (even online) – even if you don’t participate, reading what other people are thinking can help. If you’re interested find some books on adult sibling loss – one I liked was called “Letters to Sara”

      I’m kind of rambling now, and maybe I’ve gone way beyond what you’re asking, but I’m thinking of you and wishing you all the best as you deal with your pain and loss.

      1. Another Anon Day*

        This is all stuff I’ve actually been thinking about, so no rambling seen here. I’m an information junkie and have already learned that there is limited info on the loss of adult siblings. I’ll absolutely be looking into Letters to Sara. If you happen to know of any others, I’d love to hear of them. Thanks so much for your words, guidance, and kindness. It seems you’ve found some peace in the time that followed, and I hope to do the same.

    8. em2mb*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I think your attitude is right about wanting to get back to work for no other reason than to maintain some sense of normalcy. You write that your colleagues have been understanding. Hopefully they will continue to be understanding if it takes you some time to get back up to your usual speed.

      One thing that’s helped me when I was grieving: priority lists. I knew I wasn’t working at 100 percent of what I was capable of, so I would try to put the tasks that were absolutely essential job duties on top and get those done when I was feeling up to it. I saved the more menial tasks for days I was really down and just wanted something mind-numbing to do.

    9. Emmie*

      I am very, very sorry for your loss. Your situation is amplified in degree compared to mine. I can speak to what I did when I ended a decades long relationship with a former finance. (Obviously not the same as the death of a little brother.) Those first months at work were really hard. I listened to motivational youtube videos like Joel Osteen (sorry if that’s too religious for you… there might be something else motivational you can listen too). I did not want questions about it because I would honestly start to cry, so I spoke to the office gossiper and asked her to spread a rumor for me! (No kidding! She comes in handy sometimes.) I asked her to tell people what happened, that I did not want to talk about it, and that any distractions were welcome. The last two parts were key. I only got a few questions about it from my boss and a few close coworkers. My boss asked me a question about the situation, and I actually started tearing up at work. I was super embarrassed, told him so, and I apologized and asked him to talk about something work related. It took some time to heal, and for it not to be on my mind every second of the day. You’ll get there. Give yourself permission to cry (or express your emotions.) I also went to counseling b/c there were some really difficult circumstances that I needed to work through. Work was a good distraction during this time. Again, I don’t mean to compare the death of your brother to ending an engagement. Perhaps some of these things might help you. Big virtual hugs.

      1. RF*

        The bit about the office gossip is really a good idea. When my mother died I told my boss and I asked my boss to a) tell everyone what happened and b) tell everyone I did not want to discuss it.

        It really helped to have everyone know what I needed and for the most part, my wishes were respected.

    10. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Very sorry for your loss. I lost my FIL suddenly last year and we were close so it was hard. The first few days back were really hard because in addition to “having to deal” a lot of people are going to ask you about how you are feeling or express their sympathy which brings it all back. Sometimes that is awesome but sometimes it can really suck.
      I worked one full day and the second day back someone said something and I could not stop crying so I went home. I did my version of therapy (made about 100 cupcakes) and talked to my mom and a neighbor who had recently lost her mother suddenly. I think the biggest thing that helped was just sitting on the couch with my husband and talking with him about how we felt and what the next step was. We have a great, funny picture of him on our fridge and so say good morning each day.
      You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to miss him. You are allowed to have bad days. You are allowed to laugh and live and love. Don’t expect that you can compartmentalize and be 100% focused. Do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself (don’t be a slacker though). Sometimes work can be a nice distraction and help find balance again. Other times it is too hard for whatever reason. Keep communication open to your management team and when you have time do something your brother would have liked. My FIL’s birthday was this past Saturday and we went out for margaritas (lots and lot of margaritas…with really good tequila) because he loved Patron and this Mexican place near his house. We toasted and told stories and did exactly what he would have wanted to do for his birthday if he’d still been with us. We were poop-faced and happy with tears streaming down our faced at 4pm and got a lot of funny looks as there was about 15 of us drunk walking down the road.
      And spend a little extra time with your parents and other sibs (if you have them) – there is a lot of comfort there even if it seems hard at first.

    11. Another Anon Day*

      Thanks to everyone for the validation, support, and ideas. July, in a word, sucked. One family cat had to be put to sleep after a stroke on the 16th, we lost my brother on the 25th, and the second family cat died on the 27th while I was there. (And we were dealing with a flea infestation at my parents house and I had severe travel issues both to and from my hometown, five hundred miles away. ANYWAY–) On top of the normal stresses of life, things haven’t been easy. I’ll have to come back to these and read them again and figure out what will work best for me, but I really appreciate everyone’s input. Thank you so much.

      1. Windchime*

        You’ve gone through a really, really rough time. I have no advice for you, but please know that this internet stranger is thinking of you and I’m very sorry for all the loss you have suffered.

        1. M*

          My deepest condolences for your loss. You’ve had way too much thrown at you. Be gentle with yourself and do the things that feel comfortable and I hope work becomes a helpful distraction.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      *hug* I’m so sorry about your brother.

      I have no experience with this other than working after a giant breakup, but I think if you need to take breaks during the day, do so. Don’t feel like you have to power through like a robot. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a quick bathroom break, go get a glass of cold water (helps if you feel like crying), step outside for a sec or two, etc.

      As far as additional time, I’d see how it goes and maybe ask your manager about that.

    13. AMT 2*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my sister when she was 16 (I was 18) – I was really relieved to get back to school and work to be able to think about anything else. I worked in a restaurant and rather than going to church functions (I was very involved in my church at the time) I’d go sit in a booth at work just to be around people but not have to talk to anyone about it. I don’t know how much I focused at work, at school I tended to sleep through half my classes and basically just checked out. It takes time, and its hard to say how much – I only had a month and a half of school before graduation, and by the end of the school year I was not as checked out. So no real suggestions, aside from try to only work on lower priority stuff that doesn’t require too much concentration – something you can do while being mentally checked out. After a week or two it will be easier to get back into the routine of working, at first it just feels so strange that everything is just continuing on the same as ever. It gets easier, and faster than you’d expect.

    14. aliascelli*

      You’ve gotten some great advice here, so I will just send you internet hugs and let you know I’ll be thinking of you!

    15. KimberlyR*

      I’m sorry to hear this :( I lost a brother when he was 22, but he was my older brother (I was 21.) I ended up quitting the job that I was working-I was a server and I wasn’t the best one there, and being distracted by my grief made it worse. I started working somewhere else and the busy times did help get me through the day. But there were those unexpected moments when it would just hit me again as if it had just happened. I gave myself permission to go cry somewhere, pull myself together, and get back to work.

      Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to grieve when you need to, and to push it from your mind and even live in denial a little bit when you need to. It still sneaks up on me 10 years later, but I more often remember the good memories and less often the circumstances around his death.

      If you want to talk about your brother, bring him up. Often people won’t talk about your lost loved one because they’re afraid to. But it can be therapeutic for us family members to talk about them.

      If you don’t want to talk about it, feel free to just say “Not right now, please” and move on-walk away, turn to your computer, whatever you need to do. No one will feel offended.

      Let yourself cancel plans when you need to, but make sure you keep some plans so you can get out of the house. I usually didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything for awhile, but I would often get distracted and sometimes even have a good time. Of course your grief will still be waiting for you on the other end, but sometimes a distraction is all you need for a few hours.

      Also, to answer your real question, your company will understand if you’re a bit off your game or if you need to take unexpected days off. I think having good documentation is a good idea so if you just need to take off a day, you can email anything you need to have done that day to a sympathetic coworker, and anything that can wait can still be there for you the next day.

      Grief counseling can sometimes help as well so if it sounds like your kind of thing, maybe you should look into that.

      Again, I am sorry for your loss and you have my deepest sympathies.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        +1 for this.

        My brother passed away a few years ago (at 23). I went back to work pretty quickly too, because I really needed the distraction. Feel free to excuse yourself as needed, talk about it – or not – as needed, and do more “mindless tasks” when days are hard.

        It may be too soon for you, but talking about him is really important. It was really hard for me for awhile but now it’s pretty comforting. I still include him when I talk about my family (I have X siblings…. not I have X-1 siblings). I always will.

        Some activities will be really hard for awhile – holidays are rough, but my family has gotten pretty good as acknowledging it, maybe a little bit of tears, and then moving onto good things. We also decorate his grave for most holidays each year, which was intimidating at first but is now something we really enjoy (Halloween involves climbing a fence to sneak into the graveyard and fly paper lanterns – which he would such a kick out of!).

        I am so very very sorry for your loss. I wish you and your family all the best, and will keep you in my thoughts, Anon.

        1. Another Anon Day*

          Thanks. I really needed to hear some of this (especially about still including him when you talk about family — I keep grappling with whether or not I’m still a sister… I recognize it’s irrational, but, there it is.). I am talking about him quite a bit, which I find helps. While I of course would never wish this on anyone and it’s awful at all, it’s comforting to know others have experienced the same and still thrive.

          1. KimberlyR*

            I’m a sister as well, and he was my only sibling so I understand that “Am I still a sister” question. Now that I have children, I also deal with the reality that my kids have never known and will never know their uncle. But we talk about him like he exists. My oldest knows about Uncle J and that he died a long time ago, and when my parents or I mention something like “Remember when J did some funny prank years ago? That was hilarious!”, she isn’t confused and knows who we’re talking about. So keeping your brother’s memory alive and talking about him helps remind you that he DID exist, you ARE his sister, and he is a beloved member of your family still. And that will help your friends and other well-meaning people know that they get to still talk about him. I can’t tell you how many funny or interesting stories I found out about my brother after he died, because I would still talk about him and people we knew would share the memory with me. I love knowing these things and you will too.

    16. Anxa*

      Sorry about this.

      I can’t give any insight about what’s reasonable; I’ve only had jobs that were pretty leniently on these things because all days off were unpaid anyway or jobs where that much time off would lead to termination.

      That said, while I’m sure that the main reason you’re feeling unmotivated at times is emotional, could some of it be because you took time off? I know that sometimes it can be hard to break back into your routine and mindset even without being distracted by something like this?

      Could productive procrastination help? Maybe focus on tasks that aren’t as mentally demanding. Added bonus if it’s the type of project that’s motivating on its own (for me, this is stuff like organizing my desk, goal setting, jamming on my planner, etc.) This great because not only can I check out a bit while I do it, but it also gets me a little more forward-thinking. It’s something I’ve done while distracted by loss and grief that seem to help.

    17. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Very sorry for your loss.

      Try to do tasks that don’t require much concentration if you have any, or alternate harder with easier tasks. Be easy on yourself.

    18. RF*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      What is your relationship with your boss. If it’s good, I would be as upfront as possible about your needs. If you think you might need a lighter load and additional back up, let him/her know. On the other hand, maybe a really intensive project will keep you focused on work and provide a much needed distraction from you grief.

      Mostly, I would suggest you be proactive in getting the support you need outside of work. I really wish I had gotten some grief counseling when my mother died. It definitely affected my work negatively and it took me a surprisingly long time to really bounce back to where I was. I wasn’t right for at least a year, and it mostly impacted my work more than my personal life. That’s probably not what you want to hear, but I strongly recommend you take care of your mental health now, rather than waiting.

      Again, I’m so sorry about your brother. I cannot even imagine what you must be going through.

    19. Another Anon Day*

      While I haven’t the energy to respond to everyone, please know I’m reading every comment and am so touched by everyone’s kindness and understanding. Thank you all!

    20. Not So NewReader*

      My profound sympathy to you and yours, AAD.

      I’m an only kid so I have not lost a sib. But I have experienced other losses. When my father passed, I decided to learn something about grief. I guess because I was so rattled and I realized I had no idea what “normal”grief looks like.

      Several really important things:
      I learned about the symptoms of grief. Oh boy, there are lots of symptoms. And confusingly, they can run opposite with some people. For example, some people may lose a lot of weight or not sleep at night. Others may gain a lot of weight and sleep all the time. Some symptoms are a bit scary, like irregular heart beat or forgetting the most obvious things like leaving keys behind or forgetting to feed the dog. There’s lots of symptoms.

      We all grieve at our own pace. And different things can trigger an out pouring of sudden sadness. This is the raw grief. And you will get through it, the tear ducts won’t have a hair trigger in time. BUT. Grief changes shape and changes form. I don’t believe we ever stop grieving because we will always miss our person. And why. We always miss them because we never stop loving them. And it is okay to keep loving someone who is no longer on earth. I tend to think no life is wasted if someone still loves the person who is no longer here.

      My friend lost two brothers in an accident (DWI). He was supposed to go with his bros that night, but backed out at the last minute. It’s been thirty years and once in a great while I will see my friend’s eyes get damp when he talks about his two brothers. His grief is still there after all these years. I think that it is important to say, “Loved one, I will always miss you” , because this is honest, this is real.

      When we have a big loss such as a close family member or friend, it becomes a part of us and a part of our life story. And it does shape us. Don’t be afraid/surprised to see yourself changing. You may have new priorities or new interests. This is how huge loss/grief is, it can change us in some ways. That is okay too, because, again, it’s proof that our loved one’s life was not wasted, they sent out a ripple and we carry it.

      Jobs and household tasks are a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing because they ground us, they give us something consistent in our lives. Jobs and household tasks are a curse because, damn!, it’s so hard to focus. Decide to let your job help you to ground yourself. Grief causes chaos in the brain- back to the filing cabinet analogy. Someone took your file drawer out and dumped it all over the floor. Now you have to pick up the pages and put them back. These pages are your memories, your beliefs, your priorities, everything you think about.Your job can be a time out from that, or it can be something that gives you a sense of accomplishment when nothing else does, or it can be something just fills your days because that is what you need most. You can frame your job any number of ways.

      Punchline, any time frame for grief is reasonable. People who say “you should be over it in x time frame” have no clue what they are talking about. Move away from people who say that, and if you read it in an article somewhere, stop reading the article because the writer has no clue.
      To help keep myself on track, I put things I needed to remember in my own way. So mail would go on top of my purse at night so I remembered to mail it in the morning. If I promised to return my friend’s book, I would put it in my car so I had it when I went to her house. I left myself notes, I wrote a short to-do list each night.
      Remember, grief is a form of stress and stress depletes vitamins and minerals from the body. Grab a salad, grab some water with electrolytes. The more vitamins and minerals you get into to you, the easier it will be to stay on track.
      Taking walks, even short walks, is really great for improving concentration.
      Allow a little extra time to do things and make sure you are getting some sleep.

      And the best thing to do and one of the hardest things, do not let yourself fall into isolation. If the best you can do is go see a friend for one hour each week, then do that. Get there make it happen. It’s fine to take quiet time, it’s not good to allow yourself to be alone all the time. Don’t let yourself sit there alone day in day out for weeks on end. Find caring people and hang with them.

      Let us know how things are going for you.

    21. chickabiddy*

      I’m so sorry for your loss (all of your losses). I don’t think anyone can determine how much grieving time is “reasonable” for anyone else, but as far as work goes, I would expect it would be perfectly appropriate to take a day or a half-day when you need it. If your office starts to push back, which I hope they don’t, could you get a doctor’s note for mental health time?

    22. Random bystander*

      My sympathies and prayers go out to you. My family was in a car accident a month ago and while they are both alive with some recovery road to cover, I can’t imagine how I would have handled it if anyone had passed on. My one point to add is to take care of yourself. Eat at least 3 wholesome meals, try to give yourself 8 hours of sleep, allow yourself some break time to do a hobby you enjoy and not think about the current situation, etc. Also, pay extra attemtion while driving. I think the days off you have mentioned are totally reasonable, including taking one here and there.

    23. catsAreCool*

      I’m sorry for your loss. Try to take care of yourself. Carolyn Hax says that sometimes grief just comes up when you don’t expect it, and that’s OK.

    24. Mander*

      Oh, this is horrendous. I’m so sorry.

      I don’t have any real advice but if your employer is halfway decent they will recognize that some days you might be unexpectedly unable to cope. Also is there any kind of employee assistance program you could access? They might have helpful advice for you.

  9. MsMaryMary*

    This week I received an email from someone who had an emoji in her professional email signature. No. Just no.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        I don’t know if it will come through in the comments. It was

        If the emoji doesn’t show up, it’s the smiley face with glasses (not sunglasses, dark framed glasses). Maybe to communicate that she’s nerdy but nice? I’ve never met her in person, perhaps she bears a resemblance to the emoji?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I saw a resume with a photo in it. And not just a photo– it was a casual photo of this dude, his wife, and his kid. And underneath he said, “Skills include… proud husband and father.” Sigh.

      1. Augusta Sugarbean*

        Man, I think I need to get my eyes checked. I just read your first sentence as “I saw a resume with a potato in it.” (I’m not sure that would be better or worse than a photo….)

        1. Lily Evans*

          New job hunting tip: include a potato with your resume and include a pun about your application being dropped into the “yes” pile quickly, like a hot potato! (idk, I tried to make it work)

          1. Lindsay J*

            There’s an online thing about how instead of giving your lover roses you should give them a potato because a potato is versatile so it shows that you show your love in many different ways, and that it shows that your love is about more than looks.

            Something about the versatility could work? “Potatoes can be made in to french fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, hash browns, potato pancakes, gnocci, and many other things. Like the potato, I too have many talents, including X, Y, and Z…”


      2. Clumsy Ninja*

        I had to talk someone out of listing “Homeschooling father of six” on his resume. Um, no…..the only way I could get it across was to say, “Do you really want prospective employers to think that you’re not really available to work because you’re focusing on schooling six children at home?”

    2. Lily Evans*

      At the last school I worked at there was a high ranking HR person who wrote all of her emails in comic sans. Even the super urgent important emails, all comic sans, all with those “fancy” backgrounds that remind me of Windows 97 Powerpoints. Sometimes there was even actual clip art involved. It was so hard to take those emails seriously. She wasn’t the only person who did that, but the most memorable. I’m positive that people there also used emojis in their signatures.

      1. Grey*

        I’ve been on the receiving end of those emails. It’s like reading a bad comic book.

        The worst use of Comic Sans, I’ve seen: A funeral notice that was circulated for a coworker. To make it even worse, the words “gone too soon” were in quotation marks.

          1. EmmaLou*

            Oh yes! My MIL used to use them for emphasis. “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year!” Dear, is your mother being sarcastic? What exactly is she wishing us?

            1. Nanani*

              In some languages, the equivalent of quotation marks is normally used for both emphasis and actual quotes. Any chance she grew up speaking a foreign language?
              Translating from such language in my professional work occasionally involves insisting with the client that they really DON’T want “quotes” around the English version because it sends all the wrong messages…

              1. EmmaLou*

                Nope. American through and through. Family been here for generations. She’s just one who picked up a grammar rule in the wrong way. There’s a whole website directed at wrong quotes and it’s hilarious. I just learned a few days ago that I’ve been pronouncing a word wrong my whole life so I’m not just poking fun at my MIL.

      2. JaneB*

        Aargh, no! And those things all make the email larger – we have very limited email storage, so emails with fancy fonts and pictures in the sig etc. have to be deleted as soon as possible, which I’m sure isn’t the intent of the sender!!

      3. Lindsay J*

        I hate the email “stationary”. Send me a plain black and white email. I don’t need a rice paper or yellow gradient background. All that does is make it more difficult to read, and take up more space in my stupid 150MB inbox.

      4. Nanani*

        I had a colleague who used comic sans for their signature. In that case I think they really didn’t know the connotations since their role was mostly using a language that doesn’t use the alphabet, and there is no equivalent font in that language, so they probably just liked the look of it (and the signature was basically just “name in roman letters, company name in English, TEL: 123-4567”)
        I debated a long time whether to say something and eventually left that job without speaking up since the odds of other English speakers seeing anything from that colleague AND knowing the internet connotation of comic sans were pretty low.

    3. Pwyll*

      Are you sure it was on purpose? If the spacing seemed all wrong for where it was, it could be an e-mail encoding thing. I’ve gotten a few emails over the years with a few random 8) littered where images were supposed to be.

      But if it was a “Thanks! 8-)” No. Just no.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      My boss uses them in some of her emails, which she sends from her iPhone. So bizarre!

    5. MsMaryMary*

      To be clear, I’m not completely against emoji in email. If you have a friendly, casual relationship with someone, have at it. But to put one in your email signature, where everyone sees it on every email you send? Not the best idea, in my opinion.

  10. eunice*

    So I have a question about salary negotiation.

    If you give a range and say depending on benefits, you could go from 68-72k, and they end up offering 68, do you think it is ok to tell them your benefits at your current workplace are better and that in order to accept the position you would have to go higher? Does that sound whiny?

    1. Dawn*

      Yeah, phrasing it that way sounds whiny. Just negotiate normally- “Reviewing the overall salary and benefits package, I am [hoping/ wanting/ etc] for closer to [70, 72, whatever]”

      I’m sure others will have better wording than I do!

      1. Chriama*

        Agreed. You gave your range and specified it was dependent on benefits. So now just say “after reviewing the benefits package, I’m looking for a salary of 72k.”

    2. Fenchurch*

      You can definitely counter their offer, just do so in a professional manner. It only sounds whiny if you phrase it as such.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There’s nothing wrong with negotiating based on benefits or anything else, though I would word it differently. More like, “The benefits package isn’t as comprehensive as my current one. Would you be able to increase that to $72?”

      Heck, I wouldn’t even mention the benefits, just ask for $72. You don’t need to give a reason upfront.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      I already posted this in another thread this week, but this is the classic example of why you never give a range. Give a single number and negotiate from there. If you give a range, the other party will immediately go to the bottom of the range.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Sorry, I meant to include some actual useful advice and not just rant. My apologies.

        It’s perfectly acceptable to counter with the top of your range and cite benefits. Be polite, thank them for the offer, and then say that you require $72k in salary to be in line with the total compensation you expect given the benefits package offered.

      2. CM*

        Giving a range has worked for me. I usually phrase it as something like “$XX is my minimum and I won’t accept an offer less than $XX. My preferred salary is $YY.” I don’t want to work for a company that lowballs me. I find that this phrasing sends a signal that I’ll consider XX, but won’t really be happy with it unless there are a lot of other things to compensate, and they’d be better off offering me closer to (or actually) YY.

  11. Minion*

    Can anyone recommend an app for iPad that works like a day planner and maybe even interfaces with my work PC? My work was generous enough to get me an iPad and I’m struggling with remembering due dates and tasks, so I’d love something to help with that.
    So, anything at all you can recommend that will help with productivity.

      1. WhichSister*

        I recently discovered Evernote and LOVE it. Have it on my computer, my personal phone, my work phone and my tablet. And I know I have barely skimmed the surface of what it can do.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The built in calendar app should be able to sync with either an Outlook calendar or a Google Calendar.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Seconding this. The built in app will sync. Ask your IT guy to set it up for you. They should be able to do it in under a minute.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Sorry, I don’t use my old iPad much, so I don’t have it with me, but I found this. I can’t verify it, but the screenshots look like what I remember when I added my work calendar to my iPad many years ago:

          If you use a calendar available through an online service, such as Yahoo! or Google, you can subscribe to that calendar to read events saved there on your iPad. Note that you can only read, not edit, such events from your iPad.

          Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen to get started.

          Tap the Mail, Contacts, Calendars option on the left.

          Tap Add Account.

          Tap an e-mail choice, such as Gmail or Yahoo! Mail [or Microsoft Exchange for Outlook].

          In the dialog that appears, enter your name, e-mail address, and e-mail account password.

          Tap Save.

          iPad verifies your address.

          Your iPad retrieves data from your calendar at the interval you have set to fetch data. If you wish to review those settings, tap the Fetch New Data option in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars dialog.

          In the Fetch New Data dialog that appears, be sure that the Push option’s On/Off button reads On and then choose the option you prefer for how frequently data is pushed to your iPad.

      2. LibrarianJ*

        Thirding, and I’ll also add that I’m a heavy user of Gmail’s task function and wasn’t able to get it to sync, so I downloaded an app called GoTasks which works really well with the tasks feature. I can actually turn on a pop-up notification with the number of outstanding tasks so I can see how much I have to do even without opening the app.

    2. LadyKelvin*

      My husband used to be a huge evernote fan until they changed the pay structure so that the free version can only support 2 devices. Since he has a tablet, phone, and computer, he switched to Microsoft Onenote. He said it is just as good as evernote and has some features that evernote didn’t have that he likes too.

      1. Observer*

        I’ve been looking at OneNote, and it wouldn’t work for me. For non-technical users, it’s definitely harder to set up the syncing. That’s not my big problem, though. The really big issue is the structure. In Evernote, you can tag things multiple ways, and then you can look at any one tag and see everything under that tag. So if I tag something A, B and C, I can then effectively open a folder / page for each of these and see the note as needed. In OneNote, I would need to have 3 copies of the item.

        If you don’t need that kind of flexibility and two way integration with the rest of office is important, OneNote is great.

    3. SL #2*

      Asana is more of a project management tool, but if you’re not looking for a calendar, then it works great and synces between multiple devices and the web browser version.

    4. justsomeone*

      Wunderlist is my go to. It’s more of a to-do list app, but has a browser interface and a great phone widget. You can set due dates, reminders and assign tasks. You can create different lists for different projects and have public and private lists. It’s awesome, and FREE. I didn’t like Evernote, and like it even less now that they’ve cut out so many of the free features.

    5. Clever Name*

      I use ToDoist. I access it on the web on my work PC and it’s also an apple app (I use it on my iphone). I had Evernote, but I recently got rid of it because they are limiting you to accessing it on 2 devices, and I used it on 3. You can access it on more, but you have to pay. I’ve replaced Evernote with OneNote.

      1. zora.dee*

        From what I understand, you can still access Evernote through a web browser on additional devices, just not using the app. I’m still able to use it at work (in addition to my phone and home computer) by using the web browser. But maybe I’m missing something.

  12. Anon today*

    Informal poll: How long was your last job search in terms of

    weeks/months searching?
    total apps sent out?
    total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview?

    I’ve been looking on and off for 1.5 years and have felt discouraged of late. I seem to get a decent number of interviews per apps sent out, but have yet to get an offer. Even with some very nice “we loved you, but..” emails, I am starting to feel like I will never find a new job (over dramatic, I know.).

    1. UnCivilServant*

      weeks/months searching?
      total apps sent out?
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview?

      Six Months.
      More apps than I can remember.
      Very few. (Less than 1 in 10)

      This was a number of years ago. My layoff had unfortunate timing.

    2. Not Karen*

      My *last* job:
      weeks/months searching? 2-3 months
      total apps sent out? 3
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? 2
      However this was once I had a specialized MS and 3 years experience. Directly after my MS:
      weeks/months searching? ~7 months
      total apps sent out? ~20-30?
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? 2
      And directly after my BS:
      weeks/months searching? ~1 year
      total apps sent out? >150
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? 1

    3. New Job*

      I searched for about a year, intermittently, while employed full time.
      I applied for maybe 20-30 jobs.
      Probably 1 out of 3 resulted in an interview.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Thank you! This makes me feel so much better about my job searching. (Unfortunately, I live in an city full of people who are overeducated for their jobs. I think a lot of people look at my experience and would rather go with someone who they think would be less experienced but cheaper…)

    4. Bowserkitty*

      Weeks/month searching: I was searching for approximately a month and a half before I landed an in-person interview.
      Total apps sent out: It was somewhere in the teens. I realize I’m very lucky, and that some hit close to 100.
      Total number that resulted in one interview: Two. One was a phone interview, the other was for the job I eventually got.

    5. INFJ*

      Job search Round 1: sent out massive amounts of applications/resumes to any jobs remotely related to skills/experience over a period of 3 months (about 50 applications). Got 2 interviews, no offers.

      Job search Round 2 (1 year later): Searched for relevant job openings on a whim and sent out 2 applications/resumes to jobs that were a STRONG MATCH for me. One of the companies emailed me later that day to set up a phone interview, and I started at that job 2.5 months later.

      So, overall, it took about a year and a half from the time I *started* looking to the time I found a new job, though there were periods in between in which I wasn’t looking at all. Honestly, I think it just took a year for the right job to get posted, because the position and the company are truly an incredible fit for me.

      Don’t get discouraged! You’re getting interviews, so you know you’re doing something right. Just keep applying to positions that you know will be a good fit and eventually one of those interviews will be the right one.

    6. Fabulous*

      Almost 2 years
      Between 60-100 apps sent out (lost track)
      I had around unique 5 interviews, this is not including those where I was brought back 2-3 additional times
      I still haven’t found anything in my targeted field

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      1) 6-8 months. I started searching a semester before I graduated
      2) Millions. (Probably more like 30-40 companies, applying for 1-5 openings each)
      3) 2. Actually, one was from asking a friend to pass along my resume…. So one, technically.

    8. Master Bean Counter*

      My last search took 2 years, 4 months, and 12 days. I probably put out 24 applications in that time and had 20 interviews. Some places I interviewed for twice in that time period. 9 places were very nice and got back to me after the interview. I got one really bad offer. 9 completely ghosted on me and one ended with a very awkward encounter in the local post office.
      When it’s right the pieces fall into place with amazing precision. I was recruited for the position I accepted, I never would have applied for it otherwise.

    9. AndersonDarling*

      When I was an admin, I searched for 3 months. I sent out approx 75 applications, got maybe 6 phone interviews, and 4 in person interviews.
      My husband is a maintenance mechanic and has been searching for a year. (Which is UNBELIEVABLE since there are dozens of job ads for maint jobs.) He only sends resume’s for the best jobs, mostly corporate organizations. He sends one or two applications a week, and he may get one phone interview a month, and they always lead to an in person interview.

    10. voluptuousfire*

      weeks/months searching? Between 2011 and 2015, about 2 1/2 years, roughly.
      total apps sent out? No idea. Hundreds, easily. Didn’t track it.
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? First time, didn’t keep track. From April 2014-August 2015, roughly 50, I think. Most were phone screens but some I did get though to the later steps.

      But yes, been there. Very, very much understand “Even with some very nice “we loved you, but..” emails, I am starting to feel like I will never find a new job (over dramatic, I know.).”

      I got TONS of those emails. Someone always seemed to have something I didn’t have. Too much of not enough, I called it. You will get something, I promise! I’ve been in a job almost a year now (yay!) and they lurrrve me. Not love, lurrve.

    11. Goats*

      weeks/months searching? 8
      total apps sent out? 30
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? 15

      Context: I was also kind of trying to switch industries. Almost all of my work and education (undergrad and graduate degree) are in the performing arts, and I wanted to work in something… not arts. Like a non-profit with a different focus, or a university (but not arts related). I think a lot of people would have looked at my resume and assumed I probably wanted to do something arts-related so I had to carefully explain why I wanted something different. It was weird – I think a lot of people see the field I was in as a “dream career” for people “following their passion” so it seemed bizarre to a lot of people that I was actively trying to get out of it.

      1. Greengirl*

        I work in the performing arts currently. I was recently having drinks with current and former colleagues and almost all of us had either left or are currently looking to get out. It is a dream job in some ways but people don’t get that there are many downsides.

    12. SL #2*

      2 months
      Probably 12-15?
      2 apps made it the offer stage, but they were also the only ones that gave me interviews.

      This was last year, though, and I was living in an large metro area experiencing a lot of economic growth, and I planned on moving to another large metro area 6 hours away that was also experiencing a lot of economic growth. I’m certainly not the only one who’s jumped from one city to the other.

    13. Was also discouraged*

      weeks/months searching?
      7 months and 28 days. I started applying for jobs on January 1st and received 2 offers on August 28th, one of which I accepted.

      total apps sent out?

      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview?
      Two. I had two interviews one the same day and got offered both jobs seven days later. These were the only two callbacks/interviews I received beyond a ‘we received your application’ email (and all the jobs I applied for were ones I had the skills and experience for)

      Good luck with your search!

    14. H.C.*

      weeks/months searching? about a year and a half
      total apps sent out? 5
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? 3 (1 of which turned into a job I will be starting soon!)

      My disclaimer is that I’ve only searched for jobs half heartedly too and only applied for openings am really interested in or came highly recommend by my colleagues; I actually enjoy my current (soon to be former) job but am looking for a change after 10 years in the same org.

      In any case best of luck from another year+ job searcher

    15. Pineapple Incident*

      Sporadically/Not determined: 1.25 years, Determined: 1 month (post issue with boss about part-time schedule)
      Total apps sent out: 55 (there was a while when I didn’t send any out, but I’ve sent 8 in the last 2 weeks)
      Apps leading to interview: 7 (4 I ended up in the final round)
      Apps leading to offer: 2 (1 I withdrew because the boss seemed crazy at interview, and offered less than advertised, 1 I accepted, but is sadly only a summer internship so I’m back to my annoying regular job in 2 weeks full-time)

      I feel the struggle. I didn’t get serious again about searching until very recently. The bulk of my interviews came the last time I got serious, which was at the beginning of my job search. This summer, I revamped my whole resume and how I write cover letters (with AAM’s help- read the job guide!). I’m hoping to at least get interview bites this time, so I can practice and get some confidence. It was disheartening last time to end up in final rounds for 2 positions and be told by both at almost same time that I didn’t get it- you’re not being over dramatic. I got that news one day after another, and ended up taking a mental health day from work because I felt super inadequate. Good luck- you’re not alone!

    16. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I was like you – off and on – since my workload made it hard to have time to research the jobs and interview.
      I was somewhat specialized in the jobs I was looking for so my apps per interview was about 75% but I only sent out around half a dozen (picky about salary and location) and half of those went to a second round and I turned down one offer. I ended up hooking up with a external recruiter specific to my industry (accounting) and I spent a few hours with her on the phone and on a Saturday morning in a coffee shop (with my toddler!) and she showed me 3 openings. I really liked one so we tailored the resume and sent it in. I did a phone interview within the week with a face to face the following week. 3 days after the interview they called with some followup questions and an offer the next day. I have been here over 4 years and am really happy.
      Recruiters can be bad so if you go that route find one you click with. I had an advantage that a friend worked for the company but in another state so she hooked me up with someone she knew I would click with and had a good reputation.

    17. AnonMurphy*

      This was 5 years ago, but about 6 weeks searching, no more than 10 apps, 2 interview requests that both got second interviews, took first offer, still there today. I was pretty lucky!

    18. Greengirl*

      Weeks/months searching? 3 months
      total apps sent out? 4
      total number that resulted in interviews? 2

      I’m really shocked it took that little time. I was employed full time and being very choosy about what jobs I applied to (only applying for jobs I was well qualified for, only applying for jobs that excited me, avoiding employers I’d heard bad things about, etc). I also am a fundraiser for the arts who worked for an arts organization that went through a very public crisis during my tenure so I was able to make the case for that making me a strong candidate for arts fundraising jobs.

      My previous job search took 8 months and I sent out about 50 apps. I think I got about 1 interview per 10th application. I was also looking for entry level fundraising jobs and it was a long distance search. I didn’t get any offers to interview until I started saying “I will be in x area by y date.” I remember that I got very close, with three second round interviews and one reference check, for jobs before finally getting an offer.

    19. Jennifer M.*

      I was found out in early September 2015 that I would be laid off on September 30. So I started looking in September. I started a full time job on May 9, 2016. In between I sent out approximately 30 applications (though sometimes multiples to the same company – I work in government contracting and new jobs pop up all the time as new contracts are awarded) and had 5 interviews:

      1) My very first interview was on October 1. I bombed it! It was a job that I would have totally rocked and the company was only 2 blocks from old job so the commute would have been fine. I guess I was just nervous.
      2) In November I got an interview for a job about 2 weeks before the actually advertised it because I knew someone who knew someone. I ultimately had 3 in person interviews and one phone interview in the Nov-Dec time frame. In January they started emailing me once a week to see if I was still available. In February they let me know that the job went to someone else.
      3) In January 2016 I checked out for the first time. I applied for a position at a company that I was kind of meh on in Feb. I got an interview in March. Some red flags – indicated that things hadn’t been going so well for the company. At the interview they indicated that they may take a while to hire, but would I be interested in consulting in the meantime. That resulted in a 6 week full time consulting gig.
      4) While traveling to interview #3, I got a call about another job I had applied for on Indeed. Basically it was a phone screening by a head hunter who was recruiting for another company. She said she would pass me on to the company. Didn’t hear anything back. 2 weeks later she calls me to ask if I had been interviewed yet by the company. Told her I hadn’t heard anything. By the end of the day had a phone interview scheduled that was quickly followed by an in person interview on Mar 31.

      5) Had a phone interview with a company that led to an in person interview. Red flags in that the department was currently only 1 person and they only wanted to expand it to 2.5 people. That’s not a lot of compliance people for a company that has about a $100MM backlog in federal contracts.

      Got back from interview #5 to find a job offer from #4. I accepted it. Benefits were only fine but pay was sorta decent. And the job would lead to security clearance which makes up for the other issues. About 2 weeks after accepting, I got 3 emails about other jobs I had applied to.

    20. Hashers*

      My last job search took three months from application to job offer. I applied to four jobs, received face-to-face interview for all of them and received two job offers.

      In general all of my previous job searches have taken about 3-5 months from beginning to end as well. I usually apply for about 20-30 jobs/month and I think that usually results in getting face-to-face interviews for about 20% of them.

      Hang in there! Something will come along soon enough.

    21. Natalie*

      10 months, although I took some breaks here and there due to life stuff. I worked with a couple of staffing firms rather than search on my own, because I am busy af and I hate writing cover letters, so I didn’t send out any apps but I think I was put up for maybe 30-40 jobs? Interviewed with 8 firms.

    22. Jesmlet*

      I might be an anomaly but…
      7 weeks, ~15 applications, 3 in person interviews
      The first place I interviewed ended up being the job I’m in now. I attribute it all to luck and timing. I applied to that job the first day I started looking and if that job didn’t pan out, I probably wouldn’t have found anything for a while.

      Do you ever follow up on the “we loved you, but…”? If they really liked you then I’m sure they wouldn’t mind giving a little feedback. I had a lot of interview practice since conducting interviews was part of my last job. I honestly think that’s where the most solid candidates end up getting rejected for little mistakes. The ability to come across confident and comfortable is everything. You may be the best teapot designer on the planet but if the hiring manager doesn’t believe it, it doesn’t matter.

      1. Anon today*

        That is a good point re interviewing and I’ve seen it myself conducting interviews.

        I’ve had a mixed results asking getting feedback—either no response (and this was a job where I had been a finalist the year before and they reached out to me apply when the other person quit) or, not feedback per se, getting their reasons or thinking. For example, one job said experience with x geographical region preferred. I had everything except that, but the person hired was an expert in said region, had lived there for several years, etc. Twice I applied/interviewed for the job where they were also trying to hire said job’s manager and once that person was hired, they decided to change the focus or seniority of the role which made me a weaker fit for the “new” job. Both cases left me with mixed feelings, i.e. you didn’t do anything “wrong” but it’s also out of your control…..though I guess that’s just job hunting/life.

    23. Crylo Ren*

      Most recent job search was in January this year after my employer announced that we would all be laid off in either June (wave 1) or August (wave 2).

      Weeks/Months searching: 2
      Total apps sent out: 10-15. Admittedly out of desperation I applied to jobs that I didn’t really want and was way overqualified for, but I really couldn’t afford to be jobless.
      Total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview: 7? I got 7 phone screens, 3 onsite interviews, 3 offers, but only 1 offer ended up being relevant.

    24. Moonsaults*

      I started looking aggressively, it was about 3 months before I had any real bites. I couldn’t tell you how many resumes I sent, I’d guess about 25? I got about 10 interviews, 3 of them turned into job offers. 2 of them were absolute failures and thankfully I was able to bounce into the 3rd one in the end and it really stuck.

      However I’m in office management and accounting, that tends to have a heavy amount of executive assistance. So my net is wide and skill set is needed in every business in some way.

      The defeat feeling is your worst enemy. Any time you get turned down, I flip it around to say “Well then it wasn’t for me, I probably dodged a bullet if they don’t think I’m a good fit for them.” Then keep going.

      My last long term job lasted over ten years and I was their second choice. They had to call me a couple weeks after passing me up to have me step in because their first choice wasn’t working out. Try to be as positive as possible, that’s your biggest ally.

    25. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Five months, probably 60-75 applications, nine actual interviews (plus five more interview requests, which I declined for various reasons). This was last year; I actually got the offer for my current job a year ago this week if I’m not mistaken! It’s definitely not my dream job, but I’m satisfied.

    26. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I think I probably sent out about 20 résumés? Four resulted in phone interviews. One resulted in a position. The position I got, though, didn’t get back to me initially for several months.

    27. Oryx*

      I spent 2 1/2 years searching while employed full time before being hired at my current job July 2015.

      Guess, I’d say about 30 apps.

      Interviews: 5 in person + 2 phone interviews that didn’t go any further

    28. Elizabeth West*

      12 months
      160 apps sent
      30 interviews (I didn’t count phone screens)
      3 offers–one didn’t pay enough to live on, one was for a temp job, and the other was CurrentJob

      And I totally know that feeling. Keep trying, though.
      Not looking forward to the possibility of going through all this again. >_<

    29. LawCat*

      weeks/months searching?: 5
      total apps sent out?: 7
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview?: 5

      This was all recent as I start my new job in a few weeks. After interviews, I was rejected by two, ghosted by one (so I assume a rejection; I’ll be posting their behavior on glassdoor), withdrew my application with one, and then got an offer from one. This is the fastest job search I’ve ever had in my current occupation because I now have a decent professional network and am at a skill level in my career that is in greater demand than in earlier years. Before my current place of work, it took 10 months and I can’t even remember how many apps (but a lot!) to get just a sprinkling of interviews. Before that while in law school and fresh out of law school, I must have sent over 100 apps and got 1 interview that fortunately materialized into a job. It was a nerve-racking time.

    30. PeachTea*

      Time Searching: I was unhappy with my job so I’d been passively sending applications to positions that interested me. If we count that, then my time searching was about 6 months. When I was actively searching and dedicating my nights to application materials each and every day, that was about 3 months.
      Total Apps: 86 (I kept a spreadsheet)
      Interviews: Went on 3 in person interviews. Had 2 phone screens. Was called about 5 more interviews after I’d accepted my current position so I simply turned them down.

    31. Slippy*

      weeks/months searching? six weeks
      total apps sent out? five
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? three

      In the IT field seems to be really hot place to post your resume at the moment, but that is likely to change when something newer and sleeker comes along.

    32. Lemon Zinger*

      This was back in October. I was unemployed for a month after foolishly quitting my job when I got an offer (but not a start date!). For the first week or so, I was excited and just waiting around, but then I realized that the job was taking a suspiciously long time to “settle the paperwork.” I started applying desperately for anything I was remotely qualified for.

      The job ended up coming through, but I took the month-long wait as a red flag. A few months later, I was contacted by another employer to whom I’d applied during my unemployment. I went through the interview process and took that job immediately when it was offered.

      All in all, the delay got me a much better job, so it was worth it– but the stress definitely took a toll on me and I was very depressed for a lot of that time.

    33. Long Term Job Searcher*

      I’ve been looking for a “better job” since January, 2006. No, that’s not a typo. Since then I’ve moved and gone back to school in pursiut of that better job. I finished school 3 years ago this month. I have no idea how many apps I’ve sent out or interviews I’ve had. I’ve found jobs in that time, but none of them are better than what I had when I started looking.

    34. Anxa*

      4 years to find a job.
      I’m on year 8 of trying to find a full-time, permanent position.

      Lost count of resumes, etc.

      The hard part for me is having interviews where interviewers seemed genuinely impressed with my responses. As in I’ve received comments like “wow, that was the best answer we’ve ever heard.” But I’ve never been the right fight for those jobs.

    35. GiggleFits*

      About 3 months of kinda, sorta looking followed by 6 months of serious searching. So 9 months total.
      10-15 applications maybe? I was very particular with what I applied to.
      6 resulted in phone or skype interviews, and two of those moved to in-person interviews.

    36. nerfmobile*

      This was 5 years ago. I had just been laid off so this was a full-time job search and I did a bunch of networking during this time too.

      Weeks searching: approximately 14 weeks
      Total apps sent out: 20 or so (not too many jobs in my field posted at that time)
      Total number of apps resulting in an interview: 4
      Job offers: 2 (one was from a previous employer – ended up passing on that one for another opportunity)

    37. Awkward Interviewee*

      This is timely – I’ve just been wondering how badly I suck at interviews…
      I’m currently employed, but have been long distance job searching for about 5 months (so I can join fiance where he lives).
      I’ve submitted 12 applications (I’m being a little picky and only applying to things I’m very qualified for, and my field isn’t huge) and gotten 6 at least first round interviews. But no offers. Some were only one round interview processes. I’m 2 for 3 on getting to the 2nd round in 2 round searches.
      50% response rate seems good especially for long distance, but I can’t seem to turn them into offers.

    38. Overeducated*

      About 11 months
      About 120 applications
      Interviews for about 20 positions, I think including phone screens

      Received 6 offers. Turned down one due to family issues, one because I just wasn’t excited enough to deal with the schedule for the low pay, decided between the one I’m starting soon and another, and 2 more offers came in the 3 weeks after I’d accepted. Still kind of sad that I couldn’t take that first offer, it was the best of them all in some big ways, but the timing just didn’t work out for me.

    39. kbeersosu*

      weeks/months: Almost 2 years. (I took a job in there, but kept my search open.)
      total apps sent out: Probably 40-50
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview: Probably 1/3 but that’s because I attended a conference where there were on-site interviews, so I got a bunch in while I was there. Outside of that, probably 1/5.

      Job searching for that long was extremely frustrating, but it involved a dual-career search with my partner, a relocation, and me being somewhat picky because I wasn’t willing to take a step down and would only take a lateral with higher pay. I ended up following my partner to a location where he got a job (which totally sucked because then it limited by search area- and I got calls for two interviews in wildly different locations after we had already locked into that- ouch!). But it all worked out now almost 2 years later. So…hang in there.

    40. Jennifer*

      4+ years.
      I probably sent out 2-10 per year (more as the years went on and I got more desperate) because my industry is incredibly finicky and you can’t get an interview without already having 95% of the qualifications (and you don’t get the job unless you have 100%).
      I got one interview a year except for this last year when I had two.
      Never got any of the jobs.

    41. Bens Admin*

      Not mine, but my husband’s that I mostly did for him due to mental health issues – he just got a job and started a couple of weeks ago.

      Weeks/months searching? 7 months
      Total apps sent out? Probably in the 50-75 range
      Total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? maybe 3-4?

    42. Colette*

      My last job hunt was six months. Probably 30-40 applications, 2 interviews. Somehow, I tend to get offered the second job I interview for.

    43. ModernHypatia*

      Librarian, so my field, maybe not like your field. (And I was also being moderately selective in applications, so it’s not like there were dozens of jobs that were a possible fit posted every week, usually only 1-3 that were even plausible for me given a combo of my skills / middle career experience level / places I was willing to live which was broad but not ‘anywhere’.)

      My last hunt ran February 2014 to April 3, 2015 (so 14 months?). 28ish applications on my own, of which I had 14 interviews (usually one, but sometimes phone + in person: I had only 2 phone interviews that didn’t progress to in-person), plus about 5 quick initial interviews and one ‘fly out for a full interview’ through an independent school hiring firm.

      It was slower at first, but really picked up: the week I interviewed for the job I had now, I had 3 interviews in 3 states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California, so there was some significant travel involved) and on my way back from the last one, got an email for an interview somewhere else. My current job had made me an offer in the middle of that trip, and I’d just accepted it. (And am very happy still!)

      1. Bibliovore*

        Academic librarian.
        The job was open due to a retirement.
        one on line application in January.
        On site hour interview with hiring director in May
        Phone interview with hiring committee June
        On-site fly-in with job talk end of July
        Five essay questions received in an email , one week later.
        Phone interview one week later.
        Offer last week of August.

    44. Cookie*

      8 months searching, approximately 100 applications sent out, 8 interviews (a few more interview requests that I turned down when I realized the job wasn’t worth leaving my current job), and only one offer.

    45. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      My last job search lasted 10 days from start to accepted offer. I applied for 2 jobs; one interviewed and hired and the second I was apparently under consideration, but Company A acted faster and Company B is connected via personal relationships to Company A, so they knew they wouldn’t get me. One application for my one interview. Really, it was good timing in a market that is short on people with my skills, and I applied just a day or two before they were doing the first round interviews.

      Previous serious job search was fresh from college and lasted nearly a year. I did land a retail position in the interim. I probably sent out 20 applications in that time frame, and I only got one non-retail interview, but that was all it took. I felt so discouraged and depressed that I almost gave up and moved back home. Somewhere there’s probably an alternate universe where I did, and I’m sure it didn’t turn out as well.

      I sent out one app in between those two periods, and got to the first round interviews and I think we mutually decided it was not a good fit afterwards. I so was relieved I never got called back.

    46. Stellaaaaa*

      Just get your two years of office experience and then move on to something else as fast as you can!

    47. Snazzy Hat*

      Seven months and counting.
      35 applications.
      Monday will be the third time I’ve had an in-person interview. I also had a phone interview with a different company (just received the rejection letter yesterday) and have spoken to recruiters at two staffing agencies.

      This freaking stinks, but at least it seems things are very slowly getting noticeably better.

    48. Happy Balloon*

      I am an academic, a career choice in which job searches can take an incredibly long time. I did three job cycles before getting my current faculty position. (In my field, jobs are normally posted in the fall, applications are due in late fall or winter, interviews and offers happen in the winter and spring — so three cycles = three years of job searches, with time off in the summer because no job ads are posted then.) The first year, I got none of the permanent jobs I applied for — not even any interviews — but I was offered a temporary post-doc, which turned out to be fabulous. The second year, I had two interviews that both led to offers, but I decided to stay in my post-doc. The third year I got my current job. Over the three years, I probably applied to ~150 positions. I had the three interviews I described above plus one other phone interview that didn’t go anywhere. Hopefully reading about this ridiculousness can help you feel better!

    49. NicoleK*

      Weeks/months searching: I began applying for jobs late August. I accepted a job in early December.

      Total apps sent out: I don’t recall how many applications I submitted. I mainly targeted county positions. Because I focused on county jobs, there were times when I had to apply twice for the same position (candidate list was abolish and I was required to submit a new application)

      Number of interviews: 3 initial interviews and 1 second interview. Additionally, I was contacted by 4 hiring managers for interviews after I accepted a position

    50. Mander*

      weeks/months searching? Intermittently between 2012 and 2015
      total apps sent out? Many. I didn’t keep track.
      total number of apps that resulted in at least one interview? Two, and neither one led to a job offer. Although my professional field usually doesn’t interview, so I have managed to get three jobs since last May. However, I did not manage to get a job until I moved to London (sigh).

      Most of the jobs I applied for were attempts at either changing fields altogether or getting a stop gap job. I rarely got any response at all. The only real feedback I have received was from the two interviews, and they were a company where I knew people and an internal position at my current employer, respectively.

    51. SeekingBetter*

      months searching: 8
      total apps sent out: 115 (initially I thought it was 130, but I counted it just now and it wasn’t)
      total number of apps that resulted in interviews: approximately 18 (including phone screens)

      I think I keep overshooting the salary range for some of the positions I’ve been applying to and have received a lot of rejection emails.

  13. Jessen*

    So it looks like I’m starting in on my first “real” (non-retail, non-academic) job – call center work. Any tips from the readers?

    1. UnCivilServant*

      I worked on a call center before. I’m sure there are some out there that are run well, but the one I was at regarded the phone agents as interchangable and did not reward knowledge or the ability to resolve caller issues without escalation. They did management by numbers and even when it was obvious people were skirting procedures to inflate their numbers (multiple one-sentence updates to a ticket from one guy, etc) management didn’t care. And they stated outright that anything over zero sick days would be a negative impact on your performance evaluation. I know unplanned absenses create coverage issues, but sick days were unpaid, and falling ill is not typically a choice.

      Anyway. I hope the company you’re working for treats its people like people. But you can’t really tell until you get there.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I made the jump from retail -> call center too! It’s rough, in some ways, but survivable.

      Biggest tip — invest in giant wholesale bags of cough drops. I would go through usually 5-10 per day with 9.5 hours a day on the phones. It’s a lot of talking, and the air in office buildings tends to be very dry.

      Other things –
      1) Establishing rapport is a lot harder over the phone, but the upside is that you have a lot more freedom to express your frustration in ways the customer can’t see. I use to wave my hands and make faces of disbelief while I was on the phone.

      2) Do not use the mute button to rant. Stuff like that can get picked up by other people’s calls and it’s a problem overall. A couple people in my call center got fired for doing that.

      3) Take notes during calls. What I did daily was just keep a notepad window open and jot down things as the caller talked, so I could refer back to things like name, account #, issues going on, any incident or case numbers… super helpful.

      4) If you tend to get hangry, keep some kind of small, quick-to-eat snack at your desk. Something that doesn’t tend to be noisy, like fruit leather or similar.

      Most of all — breathe and stay calm! It can be easy to get really worked up, but if you can stay chill, it’s not so bad.

      1. UnCivilServant*

        3) Take notes during calls. What I did daily was just keep a notepad window open and jot down things as the caller talked, so I could refer back to things like name, account #, issues going on, any incident or case numbers… super helpful.

        Where I was, the notes were required to go in the ticket so that the next agent (or a reviewing manager) can see what was done on the call. If this is the case – be careful about what you put in the notes, as other people do read them.

        Also, be mindful of the state the mute button is in. This is not always about keeping things said from the caller, but if you’re talking on mute to the caller, it gets embarassing.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Oh, I didn’t mean that instead of official call tracking! We had to do that too. I just had my own notes off to the side as an addition.

    3. the.kat*

      Practice your script, make copious notes.
      Smile when you’re talking and if you can’t smile, hold a pencil between your teeth for a few minutes. (It has the same affect)
      Write down your callers names so you won’t forget them when you close the call.
      At my call center, they were big on procedures so memorize those or learn where to find them.
      Bring something with you that you enjoy working with/looking at (fun pens, stress ball, tiny figurines)
      Prepare to laugh at some really bad jokes.
      Also at my call center, those of us with female names and voices got a lot of mildly insulting nicknames from male customers. We worked with car dealerships and there was a lot of “Babe, honey, sweetie, darling, gorgeous, sweetcheeks, etc.” Figure out how you want to deal with that so you aren’t shocked.

    4. Gaia*

      Call center work can be tough. I manage a team that deals directly with customers (although we’re too small to consider ourselves a ‘call center’) and I used to work at one of the largest call centers on the west coast. There are a few things to watch out for:

      Do not be deceived into thinking this isn’t a real, professionally important, job. Many of your coworkers won’t take it seriously. They’ll act unprofessional. They won’t seek out development. They will dress overly casual. Don’t do that. Call center work can transition into more traditionally professional work but you need to take it seriously.

      Management at call centers is hit or miss. Try to find a mentor – someone in management or on the “professional” side of the center and someone who you respect. Let them guide you through the politics especially since this is your first non-retail/non-academic job.

      Learn skills. Learn other departments. Learn training. Learn QA. Help out the supervisors to learn some leadership skills. Volunteer on committees. Get as much as you can out of this.

      Good luck and enjoy! I loved my time in a call center and it prepared me for where I am now.

    5. Charlotte Collins*

      Always, always, always have something on hand to drink. Your throat will get dry.

      If you sound happy when you greet the caller, the call will go much better. (I was teased about my “Disney” voice, but I rarely had a request for a supervisor, and usually only in situations that did actually warrant it.)

      If a caller is angry (not sure what kind of call center it is), remember that they’re angry at the situation, not at you.

      I totally second the mute button suggestion. They don’t always work as they should.

      Do whatever relaxes you on your breaks. Sitting around the breakroom complaining about callers isn’t generally helpful to anyone.

      Good luck! I think experience in retail makes for some great CSRs.

      1. JennyFair*

        I’ve seen people fired for what they said while the customer was on hold/mute, so I agree with those who say to keep it to yourself.

        Charlotte has a good point–smile when you talk, it really can be ‘heard’.

        I always kept a basket of toys on my desk to keep my hands busy while on long calls that were mostly talking (tech support walk-throughs, etc). Balls or twisty things they give folks who are quitting cigarettes, etc.

        Make friends with your co-workers, especially those who have been there a while. They’re a better resource than anything written down. But keep in mind call centers tend to have a negative outlook (a natural result of only hearing from people who are upset), and you’ll want some coping mechanisms.

        Good luck :)

      2. UnCivilServant*

        If you sound happy when you greet the caller, the call will go much better.

        If, like me, you can’t sound happy, at the very least, sound calm. An even, level tone and polite verbiage works wonders at getting upset callers to calm down themselves. I had a very good track record at this, despite my normally abrasive personality. I still can’t figure out how I managed it.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          True. I used to sit by someone who either sounded angry or bored when she answered the phone. Neither was conducive to a call going well.

          Polite calmness makes people feel confident that you’ll be able to help.

      3. Bowserkitty*

        If you sound happy when you greet the caller, the call will go much better. (I was teased about my “Disney” voice, but I rarely had a request for a supervisor, and usually only in situations that did actually warrant it.)

        This wasn’t a call to a center, but I admit I was in rage mode the other day when my renters insurance arrived and it had my OLD address on it. I tried to fix it online and got all of these ridiculous questions, so I ragequit and called the local agent number. The girl who answered the phone was just so damn friendly and cheery that I reverted back to my own friendly self from the second she answered and the problem was easily fixed.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Ahhh, the good old days of CSRing. My tip is to be yourself on the phone. I used to use my “phone voice” and I learned that it was too phony and didn’t resonate with customers. People want to talk to a real person, and not a person trying to sound like a robot.
      Good luck!

    7. Rat Racer*

      Yes. Don’t ever make the mistake that I made: I wasn’t working in a call center, but was the ops manager for a network of medical centers. Sometimes, I had to field patient complaint calls, and once (only once) I gave a patient my cell phone number so that he could call me back because it was 5:30 pm and I had to pick up my infant daughter from daycare. Do NOT ever give someone your cell phone number, even if you are trying to be nice, and human, and go the extra mile. Take it from me: this is a BAD idea.

      (for anyone who cares how this story ended, after listening to this patient for 20 minutes after we’d resolved his complaint, I finally got him off the phone by reaching behind me and yanking the baby’s pacifier out of her mouth – we were on our commute home at that point. There was 2 seconds of silence and then an ear-drum shattering wail of indignant rage from the backseat. He let me go then. Signed, Mother of the Year.)

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        That’s terrible! People should know they don’t get your ear for the rest of the day just because you happened to be the nice stranger to answer that particular call! It’s good your daughter gave you an out ;)

    8. Q*

      My advise is do not take it personally! You will get callers who are out for blood over something you had nothing to do with and you are trying to help fix it but all they will do is yell and call you horrible names. Develop a thick skin very quickly.

      1. Jessen*

        Eh, that doesn’t sound too different from my retail job. I was the inside person for the automotive center. Guess who got it whenever things took too long outside?

    9. Angela*

      Depending on your call center (my experience was for a major cell phone provider), you will have different rules. The suggestions to take notes earlier are great, if that’s allowed. We weren’t allowed to write down anything per our contract with cell phone company. Attendance is key with call centers. Seriously, just showing up goes a long way because call centers tend to have very generous policies on how many days you can miss work and the one I worked for rewarded good attendance and it was the FIRST thing looked at when someone put in for a promotion. I was there for 8 years. Only took calls for 3 months, so I don’t have a ton of advice on the call portion. Just remember that no matter how much training you get, everyone feels nervous before taking the first call. It seriously takes a couple of weeks in some of the challenging calls types to start to feel comfortable. Good luck!

      1. Gaia*

        Oh yes this. Be there and BE ON TIME. You would be amazed how much it really does make a difference, even a minute or two. Schedules in call centers are specific because they can anticipate when calls are going to come in. If your butt is not in that chair on that phone, calls back up and it gets ugly QUICK.

        This is one of those jobs where it is important to be on time every day. It will make your managers happy, trust me.

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      Just get your two years of office experience and then move on to something else as fast as you can!

    11. C Average*

      Figure out a way to not let one mean person ruin your day. When I did this type of work, I printed off a few positive customer surveys I’d received and taped them on the wall of my cube so that when I did get a call from a mean person, or when I encountered an issue I simply didn’t have the power to resolve, I’d have a quick visual reminder that I’d managed to make a lot of customers happy, too. Without this perspective, I found I was too easily brought down by one bad interaction, and it made the rest of the day’s interactions feel flat and unpleasant.

      1. Jessen*

        To be honest I’m already dealing with mean people. I’ve been working on the inside counter of an auto shop and I’m the one that gets yelled at whenever something goes wrong.

  14. chemgirl*

    I have a coworker who keeps calling me the shortened version of my name (eg Ash) instead of my full name (Ashley). I’ve told him to call me Ashley several times, but he continues to do it because he knows it ticks me off. Advice? Should I let it go?

    (Should point out that he knows it ticks me off when he calls me “Ash” because we used to be good friends before a falling out. I told him I hate when people I’m not close with call me Ash. So, he knows it’s ticking me off.)

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      If he knows it’s ticking you off, I wouldn’t let it go — on the other hand, I’d be awfully tempted to do something petty like pretend you don’t know who he’s talking about/to!

      I had a coworker who occasionally decided to call me by my (former) legal name rather than the one everyone has used for me since Day 1 at this company — or decided to foreshorten ex-legal name entirely! I’d get emails every now and then going “Hi Jenny,” (name changed) because my email address at the company was Jennifer.Flagrante@company, even though literally everything else was Boochie — nameplate, team directory, mail signature, displayed name, everything! I’d just go “Hey, did you send this to the wrong person? I’m Boochie.” It did get her to stop eventually.

      1. Liane*

        Miss Manners’s scripts goes something like, “Oh, I am terribly sorry, I thought you must have been addressing someone else. My name is Cersei and I’ve never gone by Ciri.”

    2. oldfashionedlovesong*

      If you know he’s doing it to irritate you, you could try politely calling him on it and see if that changes things? “You know that I don’t like being called Ash. Why do you keep doing it?”

      Beyond that though, and unless you feel up to continuing to say “Please call me Ashley” every. single. time. he does this, I think you might have to let it go.

      I can sympathize, I have a coworker who shortens everyone’s names to whatever she feels like and it’s sooooo frustrating because she’s usually doing it in the context of giving orders she doesn’t have the standing to give. She did it to me once (inadvertently calling me by my sibling’s name, which is a short version of mine) and without thinking I replied “That’s not my name.” She seemed offended because no one has ever called her out before, but she hasn’t done it to me since. She continues to do it to everyone else though.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        I would not let it go. He’s doing it to purposely annoy you. That’s not okay coworker behavior. I like your suggestion in the first line about asking why he keeps doing it. I also like the advice to ignore him when he calls you Ash. I also like the idea of just straight-up saying, “You know being called Ash bothers me, and if you continue to do it, I will not respond to you.”

        1. chemgirl*

          It happened again, and I told him “I prefer Ashley”. He walked away while I was in mid sentence!

          It ticks me off bc he calls all my other (male) coworkers by their preferred names. Why does he have so little respect for me that he can’t? Literally everyone else here calls me Ashley.

          After last incident I called my boss and asked for advice. We are in a very male dominated field, so she is a good mentor. She told me to talk to him once more. I plan on calling him out.

          FWIW, we are equal in dif departments.

    3. Mike C.*

      Don’t respond to “Ash”, and correct him every time. It’s your name, he owes you the basic respect of using it properly.

      1. Clever Name*

        I was going to say this. Never respond to the shortened version of your name. If he really wants to get your attention, he’ll start using your preferred name.

    4. Myrin*

      I’ve had great success with simply not reacting to the nickname/shortened version but that was in personal relationships, not work ones, so I’m not quite sure if the strategy would be appropriate there. (But seriously, how childish and unpleasant. Boo!)

    5. Dawn*

      Dudebro is being a dick on purpose, so you have permission to be a dick back. Blank stares, long awkward silences, refusal to answer to Ash at all, and being as cold as possible are all OK here. And NO don’t let it go, he’s being intentionally antagonizing, and you should absolutely loop your manager in if you need to (and I’d even say do so before you go cold shoulder on the dudebro, so that he doesn’t start whining that you’re the one being the B%$#! and being mean and he’s only teasing and you used to be friends but then ahblooheyblooheybloobloo.)

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        and you used to be friends but then ahblooheyblooheybloobloo.

        So glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read this, because it would have shot out of my nose onto my laptop. And chances are likely it would have been orange juice.

    6. Karo*

      Before your falling out, did he (with permission) call you Ash? I can still see it being incredibly annoying, but it may genuinely be a case of him falling back on old habits. If I stopped being friends with my closest work friend, I don’t know that I’d remember to call her by her full name. It just doesn’t register as belonging to her anymore.

    7. Rat Racer*

      I would be very, very tempted to start calling him by intentionally the wrong name. Like maybe Bill if he goes by Will, or if he doesn’t have a nickname-able name, call him something totally random – like maybe Lizzie.

      1. LabMonkey*

        I have a coworker with an unusual name who insists on calling me by my full legal name, which I do not use ever. I call him a variety of things in response, absolutely none of which are his name and all of which are bland wasp names. He hates it. The pettiness feels so good.

    8. Caity*

      My last boss became caught up with the novelty of using my full name, which I have never, even as a baby, gone by. I first politely explained that because it’s a very common name and not one I’m used to that I had trained myself to not respond to it in public. No dice. I told him it was simply not my name and I didn’t even care for it. Kept insisting it was such a pretty name. I then got fed up and told him to have a change of life baby and name her that. It’s good I no longer work there.

    9. Moonsaults*

      It depends no your workplace, where he sits on the chain of command and how much leeway you have.

      However my response is to not respond. He knows what he’s doing and by responding to it or having a reaction of any sort, he’s getting what he wants.

    10. MarketingLadyPA*

      Ugh. I don’t know if you’re really an Ashley, but I am. My first job out of college, the first thing my boss said was “I’m gonna call you Ash.” And so I just dealt with it for 5 years. Ash is like the worst shortened name ever.

    11. anonymeee*

      He knows it ticks you off. So act like it doesn’t. Stop giving him a reaction and it takes the fun out of it for him.

    12. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Call him the feminine version of his name. So, if he’s Paul, call him Paulette or Paulina. If he’s John, call him Jill. If he’s Robert, call him Roberta. If he’s Michael, call him Missy. If his name doesn’t have a feminine, call him Dorothy or Francine, and mix it up.

    13. AliceBD*

      I have started to go by my full name at work, instead of my nickname, because when people call me by my nickname they tend to think my real name is something else and then call me the wrong name. E.g. If my full name was Elizabeth, but I had been called Liza since the end of elementary school, and then people at work decided my name must be Eliza. (name changed for example) I purposefully don’t respond to the equivalent of Eliza, and if someone makes it obvious they are calling me that, I say “My real name is Elizabeth.” Over and over and over again. I keep in mind they are the ones being rude by calling me by a different name.

  15. oldfashionedlovesong*

    Thanks to the folks who gave me advice last week on how to ask for a timeline for a position for which I interviewed a few weeks ago, since I am planning to move this month and was hoping to know my application status before I sign a new apartment lease.

    I sent an email on Monday but haven’t heard anything yet. This is a little surprising to me since they’re normally pretty responsive, but I figure they’re getting their thoughts together so I’m not going to push further. Meanwhile, I managed to change the date of my move from 8/15 to 8/20 to give the job a little more time to get back to me. Beyond that, I can only put it out of my mind. Much appreciated, AAM readers!

  16. Audiophile*

    New job has not gotten better. Direct manager was fired (though ED is acting like DM quit) while I was away in FL.

    At least I got paid and it seems to be correct.

    I’m continuing to schedule interviews, because this does not seem to give me a lot of confidence. I’m the 5th person in this position, with the longest tenure being 3 years.

    I’m worried that once I hit a month here, I really need to put it on my resume, but obviously I don’t want to have this org contacted. I’m not sure what looks worse, letting potential employers think I’m unemployed or trying to explain the red flags.

    Any thoughts??

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think there’s anything magic about a month’s work having to go on your resume, and I don’t think a month of apparent unemployment is going to look bad.

      1. Ama*

        Seconded — I don’t think it needs to go on your resume unless you get above six months (and even then you can probably still leave it off until a year — you’d just maybe get questions about the gap).

    2. Moonsaults*

      It’s been 1 month, how long would the gap be if you left it off your resume between the prior job and that month?

      Looking unemployed is a lot better in many situations than looking like you’ve had a string of short jobs unless you work as a temp or as a freelancer kind of thing that relies on gigs more than within a single company.

      If you do not want them to contact that company, do not bring them up. I’ve seen applications where someone has checked the “no” box for “OK to contact this employer” and it always makes my mind go to the worst places, even though I know as a human that it’s not always the employees fault.

  17. Microscope Jockey*

    Science people, especially anybody who has done hiring for a lab-based job: is “job hopping” A Thing in science? I had never heard of it prior to reading AAM.
    I would like to know because I am two semesters and finishing writing/defense away from finishing my master’s degree. While I like my current lab job there is no room for advancement. There are few lab jobs in this area but caveat: my spouse’s job requires him to live on-site and he just started this position last fall. I see him being at this job for several years. I am considering finding a temporary position away from home where I could pick up some new skills. I would be willing to do this sort of thing a couple of times to get the skill set I want. Next time my spouse gets a transfer we have discussed it being to a part of the state where there are more jobs for me. However, if job hopping is A Thing I need to formulate a new plan. Thanks!

    1. oldfashionedlovesong*

      I’m in a science-tangential field and I think job hopping is a thing in STEM fields because of exactly what you describe, the rarity of room for advancement within an employer. In my field, unless you work in the government sector (and even then its rare), you pretty much only advance WHEN you move to a new job. That being said, when I say “job hopping”, you’re still expected to spend at least a year, preferably two, at each place – we’re not talking semester-long stints unless you are an undergraduate.

      1. Microscope Jockey*

        When I said “job hopping” I meant the AAM-described negative phenomenon where office workers keep leaving jobs for new ones on their own free will, which invariably lands their resumes in the circular file when they come across AAM’s desk.
        I’m not sure if job hopping is bad in science in general, nor my particular discipline, because doing a temporary, often grant-funded, position for 12-18 months, then doing another one somewhere else is pretty common from what I have observed.
        I don’t want to do that though if it will get my resume canned.

        1. Newby*

          It is pretty common for exactly the reason you mention. Funding can vary a lot depending on whether or not the PI gets the grant they applied for. Assuming you can use your most recent positions as references it shouldn’t reflect poorly on you.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah I work with a lot of medical researchers and definitely in one’s early career you might move around every couple of years or so because junior research/lab positions are scarce these days and often dependent on grant funding. It’s really only once you become senior faculty/researchers that people start to look at you oddly if you move that much.

        I know one very senior medical researcher who has a poor reputation among colleagues because he moved between three institutions in about five years (he’s brilliant enough that this hasn’t hurt him much other than people are a little hesitant to collaborate with him) — but no one blames a junior researcher if they go where the jobs are.

        1. JaneB*

          If anything moving from post to post in the early stages is a positive in science in my experience – you develop a wider range of skills and experiences which will make you much more flexible when you do take on a longer term role, and many posts are on fixed-term funding so it’s normal for people to move on when the funding or project they joined ends. I’d be MORE likely to look at a tech/lab worker resume with multiple jobs on it showing a range of skills than one where the person stayed in the same place for years, especially if they studied at that place, not less likely.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      We see job hopping with our lab. We view it as kind of like restaurant work, you hop around until you find the spot that is right for you. Our hope is that our lab is the one that people want to stay at.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      I manage a lab and hire science folk. I and the other hiring managers here look down on job hopping because of how long it takes to train new people. By job hopping, I’m talking about at least three recent jobs of 1-2 years.

      That being said, if there’s a reasonable explanation (military spouse, mass layoffs, company goes under, etc…) I’ll give the applicant a pass if they explain the hopping in their cover letter. Also, successfully completing multiple contract or temp positions can be a positive thing. If you had 4 6-12 month contract positions on your resume, explained what you wrote here in your cover letter, and could demonstrate that you were successful at each, I’d view you as a strong candidate.

      1. Microscope Jockey*

        Thanks for the feedback. The latter situation you described is the sort of thing I am thinking about doing. Does your screen name relate to your work at all? I ask because it sort of relates to the kind of work I want to be doing. When I first met my spouse I described my work experience in terms of “fish squeezing”.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Nope. I am an avid fly fisherman and Microwaving Fish seems to be an inside joke around here. So I combined the two for a user name.

          1. Microscope Jockey*

            HHAHAHAHA! Gotcha. It would be unusual for me to run into another fish squeezer, so I had to ask.

          2. UnCivilServant*

            Funny thing is, whenever I skim past one fo your posts I’ve already read I either see “Trout Weaver” (with an associated strange mental image) or fail to register the apostrophe and get the mental image of someone literally waving a fish about in the air.

    4. Nye*

      I think there’s much less of a stigma about job-hopping in science (at least, in biology), with some caveats. Many jobs are temporary by nature, e.g. grant-supported positions, so there’s no problem with moving on after the grant runs out. Additionally, a lot of lab support positions in universities are pretty much expected to rotate frequently because the expectation is that after a few years of experience, folks will move on to grad school. Some professors specifically hire people that want to move on eventually, since a) it lets them add to their scientific legacy by training more people who move on to be potential future collaborators, or b) this lets them get in new people with fresh skills on a regular basis (and, cynically, probably helps keep the salary low since no one stays for more than a few years). Also, there is a lot of understanding of the two-body problem in science, so leaving a job to move with a partner is usually understood (though again, this had its limits).

      I think this is a bit different if the position is at a company or other organization with less turn-over, but it’s still just not a huge thing. Now for the caveats:

      If you’re targeting permanent support positions, leaving for grad school is probably fine but hopping to another similar position multiple times in quick succession may give potential employers pause. For tenure-track positions, changing jobs once after a few years is not out of line, BUT a bunch of it will make you look like a huge liability considering how expensive startup/renovation/etc is for a new PI hire.

      Just my two cents, but as a career scientist I’ve found the job-hopping stigma on AAM to be very different from expectations in research science.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I have experience in post industry and academia. What you’ve described is good and accurate for academia. Industry is different, though. The job-hopping stigma for R&D in industry is much more like other jobs than it is like research in academia.

    5. Mike C.*

      First off, temp jobs don’t count for the “job hopping” thing, since they are temporary. So no worries there.

      Secondly, it’s really, really common in school to have short term work. I really think you’re in the clear. Collecting those skills is a really good idea, though I hate that most of them can be easily taught anyway if you have good lab skills in general.

  18. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    First time business traveler here, looking for advice!

    In fairly short order (by which I mean, a week from today) I’m going to be flying to the Philippines to conduct training for a week. I’ve never done any business travel before, so I’m definitely getting thrown in the deep end on this one! But at least I DO have experience with international travel, so that’s something. I’m really excited for this opportunity — my job is ending in the next few months, but I get to go out on a cool note of doing something interesting and different, and getting another international trip under my belt.

    What advice do you guys have for me? What should I watch out for? What is likely to be different from personal travel? Also, does anyone have any experience with Manila specifically? I’ve heard to beware of taxis and the metro, but that’s about it.

    1. Beezus*

      I have to submit receipts for expenses, and I am not good at keeping track of receipts in my personal life (my budgeting system doesn’t depend on it.) When I travel for work, I have a designated spot in my purse for receipts and nothing but receipts and I put every receipt into that spot immediately. It’s always either a separate zippered compartment large enough to hold a folded up sheet of paper (the receipt from the hotel), or I carry a hard-sided folio-style wallet just for that purpose. I had to fight to get a travel expense reimbursed without a receipt once, and never want to do it again.

    2. SL #2*

      Always keep your receipts! I do a lot of business travel but I also do all the expense reports afterwards for my entire team. You will be shocked at what your finance department will ask you for.

      The Philippines is going to be hot, humid, and rainy. I’ve never been, but I’ve been to Thailand during this time of year, and for a desert rat like me, it was not enjoyable in the slightest. Just be prepared for the weather to be hot and sticky outside, but freezing indoors because they pump up the AC in order to keep the humidity bearable.

    3. Willow*

      Re: receipts, I use a smartphone app where you take a picture and it organizes them. Depending on your company’s policy you nay want to retain the physical ones.

    4. Nella*

      Look up the CDC and see if you need any immunizations and make them up to date. Also, if you have not traveled lots go to your Dr and see about getting a prescription for travellers diarrhea.

      Look at YouTube – don’t drive here – manilla episode. It’s about 42 min long and gives you a great idea about the traffic there.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Keep all your receipts, even ones you don’t know if you’ll be reimbursed for (you might). It’s okay to have fun if there’s time. There’s nothing obligating you to do only work while you’re traveling for work, as long as you get your actual work done well. Have fun!

    6. Slippy*

      Always pack a “survival kit” into your carry-on. Basically it has to be enough to professionally get you through the first day if they lose your luggage since Murphy is especially fond of airlines. Also carry copies of your prescriptions for any medications you may be taking in case you need an emergency refill or customs people want to know what the pills are for. Finally, know where the closest branch of your embassy is and how to contact them in case something goes sideways (like your passport gets stolen).

    7. Jennifer M.*

      You need room snacks! If you are in metro Manila there will be plenty of places to grab a meal. But your system is going to be a little out of sorts. You need a box of granola bars or similar for weird hunger pangs. Find a grocery where you can pick up at least a six pack of bottled water. Often there will be water coolers in the hotel gym and you can just refill a water bottle from that.

      Remember that your boarding pass is also a type of receipt – it proves that you didn’t sell the ticket that your company bought, buy a cheaper ticket and pocket the difference.

      It’s been quite a while since I’ve been there, so this might have changed, but I would always have one of those travel packs of tissue with you. A lot of public restrooms would have an attendant to hand out TP and then you’d have to pay for it (this was at the malls and airport, I don’t remember that in the hotels). I feel like I tipped a lot of bathroom attendants. Also, while you cannot legally bring back fresh mangoes, the dried mangoes are outstanding (our family of 4 may have come back with an entire suitcase of dried mangoes once, but we also arrived with a cooler full of frozen beef).

      1. Happy Balloon*

        I had no idea that’s why they wanted the boarding passes! It would never occur to me to sell my ticket, so needing to submit boarding passes never made any sense to me.

        Also in terms of receipts, the place where I work wants to see an itemized list of everything that was purchased, not just the credit card receipt with the final amount. If your (OP’s) workplace is similar, I’d make sure to pick up the itemized receipts, which for me can be difficult to remember in restaurants because I don’t usually need the itemized receipts for my own budgeting.

    8. SophieChotek*

      Yes – save your receipts and organize them. Especially ones that are unclear what they are may want to take a photo and make notes or write a small number on front/back and write in excel sheet what it was for.

      I’ve travelled in Taiwan during the summer for work–so hot and humid. At least in Taiwan, women always used what was essentially umbrellas for shade, so may want to consider that (and sunscreen).

      Maybe take some easy to travel snacks (nuts, raisins, chocolate). [I went straight to hotel from airport, so wasn’t too worried about chocolate melting.] It was nice to have when travelling (on plane) then also at night in my hotel room. (My hotel in Taipei was nice, but wasn’t near where I could get a late night snack.)

      Agree with immunization and CDC recommendations. Make sure you have OTC or prescription medication.

      Congrats on an interesting opportunity! Hope you find it interesting and enjoyable and can see something interesting “tourist” or “cultural” things outside of work.

    9. Anonymous Analyst Lady*

      The Manila airport is awful! I hope you don’t have to use terminal 2, I was stuck there for 8 hours a few months ago. The WiFi didn’t work and none of the vendors took cards. Airport security actally directed us to the scam taxis so watch out for that too (nothing bad happened, we just realized after that we paid $20 for a ride that should’ve been $3). Manila is an interesting city and the people are incredibly nice. Have fun!

      And as far as business travel goes, create a system to save your reciepts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten home and realized I don’t have them all for my reimbursement.

    10. it happens*

      Carry on luggage only – entirely possible to do a week of work with just a few pieces that go together multiple ways. Also, always carry a sweater/light jacket, the hotter it is outdoors, the colder they make it indoors (I CANNOT explain this.) Agree with the snack food. You also might want to get sleeping pills – for the flight and for the first few days there – it would be very difficult to perform at your peak ability in front of a class of people if you haven’t slept. Don’t know what your schedule will be, but between the people you are training and the hotel concierge you should have no problem eating well every night. As for transportation, the tuk-tuks were fun to watch, but I never took one. Again, I would trust the hotel to fix me up with taxis (and save the receipts!) I remember that there were a number of malls and one had a number of handcraft stores in it – picked up a few unique presents for people back home.

      I was last in Manila on business almost 20 years ago, so take this with a grain of salt. I’ve never been so condescended to as a woman in my life as I was in that city. Here’s just one example, I took my team out to dinner at a famous international chain of their choosing and the other woman and I were given menus with pictures only (no words or prices), juice glasses for our beer and they would not accept a credit card from me to pay – I had to give it to one of the men to hand over.

      Have a great trip!

    11. nonegiven*

      A military spouse advised to sit on your purse in the car because they will reach in and take it.

    12. NaoNao*

      I lived in the Philippines, in Manila, for work from 2010-13 so I’m very qualified to answer this!
      The weather will be very, very hot, humid, and muggy. Wear natural fibers like cotton and linen. The general dress there is very casual–shower sandals, flip flops, leggings and jeggings, short shorts, etc. I would say a simple linen outfit (sheath if you’re a female-type-person, suit if you’re a male-type) and for casual wear, a simple tee with cotton shorts should be fine.
      The traffic and density of the city is intense–there are all types of traffic on the streets: motobikes, tricycles (motobike with side car), “dollar van” type cars, Jeepneys (an truck/bus hybrid), taxis, private cars, pedestrians, and pedal bikes.
      I highly recommend the Ayala and Greenbelt malls for food and shopping. It’s an interconnected complex in downtown Manila full of casual and five star and everything in between, plus movie theatre, and designer shops all the way down to five and dime type stuff. Many happy hours were spent there shopping and people watching.
      People are friendly and outgoing but I’d advise against giving money to panhandlers or children for the following reason:
      –most child beggars are (very sadly) controlled by syndicates with a Fagan-like operator who takes their money and keeps them on the street. You will not really be bettering their lives by giving them cash. Maybe give them food or a small toy if you must
      –if you give one money, food, or a toy, you’ll be swarmed and they are *relentless* to the point where you may genuinely fear for your safety. So try to find other ways to contribute. One time I was in an airport and a person was helping a group of blind people find customers for massages for a few dollars. That’s charity you can contribute to and feel good.

      If you are a male hetero traveler and alone, be very careful of falling in with a local woman, especially romantically. It can be very hard to extricate yourself without spending tons of money. Just keep your wits about you and remind yourself: if it seems too good to be true and it’s a whirlwind, there’s a reason.

      Filipinos hate to say “no” so watch body language carefully. Signs of uncomfortableness or lowered voice/eyes with a hesitant “yes” really means “no” or “I’m not sure”.

      Also, guide books will tell you that English is spoken widely, which it is, especially in Manila, but it’s…pretty basic. You may have to repeat, slow down, guess, etc.

      Final note: the thrift stores, called Ukai-Ukai are super awesome! It’s super cheap and they have really cool, unusual stuff from Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries there. If you’re a smaller size and don’t mind digging, you can find some real treasures!

      Have fun, try to go diving or snorkeling if you can, and indulge in the amazing, friendly culture and warm weather!

    13. Sophia in the DMV*

      The Philippines is generally safe but the new president has been authorizing mass killings of suspected drug dealers (aka poor people). We’re talking 500 people in one month

    14. Nancypie*

      Find out what currency your employer prefers your receipts in. Some hotels will offer to charge you in US dollars vs the local currency, which seems like a good idea but is apparently a giant pain for the expense report.

    15. Bex*

      Use your smartphone to take a picture of each receipt as soon as you get it. If your company covering your cellphone? If not, turn off your mobile data before you turn off the phone for the flight. Print out a map with your hotel, along with a phone number and address in case you need them for the taxi.

  19. Good_Intentions*

    Absent references

    I’m in the process of applying for jobs after being let go during my probationary period.

    The issue I’m encountering is that my references are unavailable. At this point, I cannot even communicate to them that I am between jobs.

    Any recommendations? I have other lower-level references that I can use, but I’m reluctant because they are former co-workers, not managers.


    1. New Job*

      What do you mean that they ‘re unavailable? Are you able to track them down somehow through LinkedIn or something?

      1. Good_Intentions*

        New Job,

        I mean one is in India for six weeks, another is in the hospital, another is in the process of moving and isn’t checking email/phone messages.

        For the past three weeks, I have been banging my head against the wall trying to reach them.

        1. misspiggy*

          That’s going to be less of a worry for employers, because at least you have references. I’d list them and say in your cover letter that all three are temporarily unavailable, but you will update the recruiter as soon as they become available and in the meantime here are the details of coworkers who can act as interim references.

          1. Total Rando*

            I wouldn’t even list that in the cover letter. I would explain it when a job is ready to contact them (you’d know because they’d ask for your references). And yes, have contact information for interim references as well.

            Ultimately, it’s helpful to contact references before you start job hunting, but if they get a call from a potential employer before hearing from you, I think that’s probably still okay.

            1. Colette*

              Definitely agree not to list them in your cover letter – why raise a red flag before they’ve even decided whether to talk to you.

    2. Moonsaults*

      You’re jumping the gun here. Most places aren’t going to check your references until you’ve been interviewed and they are done with their interviewing process as a whole. That’s their next step after they are ready to give you an offer.

      Give them the list with all your primary contacts. If they cannot reach them, they may let you know or ask for additional references. They do not expect your references to be at their fingertips, they are professionals with lives and we all understand that!

      1. Good_Intentions*


        I have already had two jobs ask for references.

        Given that my primary references are currently unavailable, I have had to use my secondary choices.

        1. Moonsaults*

          That’s fair enough. It will always depend on who’s doing the reference check and what they’re trying to find out. Most are just trying to find out that you’re a reliable person who is what your resume says. So even if it’s not a former manager they’re speaking with, as long as they can respond with “I worked with Good_Intentions for X amount of time and G_I was a great teammate, I’d love to work with them again if I had the chance.” then that’s all that matters.

          It’s very much so dependent on the company and position that’s being hired for. Nobody has ever checked my references. I’d know because I’m close with everyone I’ve ever listed and would get a phone call or text immediately, since if they check your references, that’s usually the sign you’ve been hired. That’s how we found out my partner was hired to his last job.

  20. New Job*

    I started a new job about a month ago. After some bad jobs, I was very careful in my job search and in trying to screen out jobs that would be a bad fit. I did not accept the first job that came along.

    In any case, my new job was misrepresented a bit (one big example is that they said experience in ERP Software X was a plus, but it turns out I am solely responsible for the implementation of it). There are also some things about the office environment/culture that I didn’t know about and aren’t conducive to a productive work environment (babies screaming all over the place).

    My problem is that I have one other short-term job on my resume from a couple years ago. I was only there 5 months. I left on good terms, and had a lot of accomplishments there so I don’t want to leave it off. Plus, my boss there has been a fantastic reference for me.

    What do I do?! Do I try to stick it out? Do I cut my losses now and start a job search (which is hard, on top of learning a new job)? Any advice?

    1. Hatty*

      Wow, implementing software independently sounds like a pretty huge task to not mention during the hiring process. If that’s a skill you’re interested in developing, it may be worth it to push through it for a while to build a solid work history, but otherwise that sounds really stressful. If your only short term job was a few years ago and you’ve been stable since then, I don’t think it would look too bad to quit and leave it off (if you can afford to not work) or list a short stay. If I were hiring, personally, I’d understand if someone took a job and found out it had been misrepresented. I’ve interviewed and hired people ole that before and it’s never burned me. Whatever you end up doing, good luck!

      1. New Job*

        Thanks for the advice. I think I’ll try to stick it out at least 90 days to make sure it’s not JUST the discomfort of a new job but after that, I may quit and leave it off. I have implemented software before but more in a project manager role so I was able to bring on consultants who specialized in the software and IT people and delegate some of the work to other people. It would also be a completely manual implementation where there is no valuable data in any other software that can be imported so it’s a huge undertaking ESPECIALLY while learning a new job and still being expected to perform and meet the expectations of the new job.

        1. Hatty*

          Oh wow. I can’t believe that responsibility wasn’t made clear. That’s huge! I hope either it gets better or you find something quickly. That’s such a specialized skill and huge responsibility that it’s almost a totally different job. On their side, any implementation not done as close to perfectly as possible can have lasting impacts forever (I should know, I’ve been cleaning this stuff up for ten years now). They made a huge mistake not disclosing that as a key job duty!

          1. New Job*

            Yeah and trying to clean up the actual data that does exist (but not in any single place) is a massive undertaking on its own. They have outsourced virtually everything (purchasing, logistics, warehousing), which isn’t that bad except every single location is using a different item number and unit of measure and just trying to wrap my head around that is hard.

            And they don’t really understand that in order for the software to even be remotely helpful, they need to map out processes and change processes because otherwise, the same situations will exist as before … just with really expensive software.

    2. EA*

      This is rough. I am sorry. I left an incredibly toxic situation about a year ago, and tried hard to screen for a good situation. My current job is better than my last one, but I still feel like they misrepresented themselves a bit (exaggerated growth opportunities).

      I don’t know the rest of your resume, but I think you have to take a look at it holistically. I was at one job for 2.5 years, then the toxic one for seven months, and now this one for almost a year. I made a decision to stick this one out for 2 years (I will start job searching at 1.5 years, assuming it takes some time). I really want another 2 year stint to even it out. But if you are mid career, i could see how multiple short stints are okay as long as you have several other ones to balance it out. Maybe stick with it for 6 months and then reevaluate? (Also, WTF with the screaming babies?)

    3. Slippy*

      Screaming babies are no match for a decent set of Bose headphones, a bit expensive, but invaluable. Just set up a little mirror if you are not in the corner so you can see people walking up behind you.

  21. Hatty*

    I have a question for you all. How often do you meet with your boss? I got a new one about two months ago, and we’ve yet to meet one on one or as a department. She really doesn’t know my background or what I do. Our “grandboss” told me when our departments merged that we’d be meeting often as I used to have her job, but that hasn’t happened. She’s asked if we need to meet regularly, and I’ve said yes, but then get no response. She’s also very unresponsive to email. Should I be concerned about this with the merging of departments? No one else does what I do and I’ve always gotten good reviews, so I wasn’t worried about job security until now. Is it normal to never meet or have a boss who doesn’t know what you’re working on, even if you work independently? This is the only place I’ve ever worked so my idea of normal may be off.

    1. New Job*

      In my current position, I have one-on-ones with my boss weekly. Prior to that, I never had them in any of my positions. My bosses vaguely knew what I was working on but certainly not in any detail.

      1. Hatty*

        That’s good to know, thank you. My previous boss was always aware of what I was doing but had no clue how the work was done or the nitty gritty, either. It’s nice to know that part at least is normal.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          If you’re going through a reorg, I’d consider this a bad sign (based on very recent personal experience). This person might not be your boss for long, and decisions might be made based on lack of understanding of your position.

          On the other hand, your new boss might just be busy and disorganized. (Also not a great sign.)

          1. Hatty*

            No one else here does what I do and the position is mandatory for legal reasons so I am assuming they plan to bring an outsider in or else it’s just a big working style/personality mismatch. It’s probably the latter but I don’t want to stick around until my attitude goes downhill so it’s probably best to start looking either way, as sad as that makes me. :(

          2. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            I wouldn’t take it as a good sign either. When I was in a similar situation, it turned out my new boss had very different vision for my role–one that effectively did not include me in that position.

    2. Dawn*

      Current job I have 1:2 meetings with the two owners once a week (or once every other week if they’re really busy) and I send a weekly summary every Friday with details about what I did that week and what I have on deck for the upcoming week.

      Previous jobs I had 1:1 with my boss once a week, sent a Friday summary email, and we all had a team meeting with our VP once a week (maybe twice a week? My memory is fuzzy.)

    3. UnCivilServant*

      I can hear my direct supervisor’s phone calls because of the poor office layout. Informally there are a lot of work conversations, but official meetings vary.

      My previous supervisor was in a different work site, so it could be weeks between times we saw each other in person.

      So really, it is highly variable.

    4. chocolate lover*

      As far as formal meetings go – once a year for my annual review. If I want or need something though, I just go talk to him or schedule something. Same in my previous job in a different unit of the same organization (though when I started in the field, at that organization, I had a senior staff member take responsibility for my training and met with me regularly, I didn’t really need my “boss.”)

      It really can vary by organization, and even role. But being new, I think it’s reasonable to ask for more consistent conversations, but sounds like you’ll need to make a concentrated effort to make it happen.

      1. Hatty*

        I’ve asked directly, and I’m not sure what more I can do. We don’t sit in the same area so we only talk briefly (less than five minutes at a time) once or twice a week. I think either they plan to push me out or we just have drastically different styles and this may not be a good match. I’ll probably start looking soon. I’m quite close with our CEO, though, and if he finds out why I’m leaving I doubt the new manager will last long. I’ve been here over ten years, they invested significant resources into training me and he can be very vindictive. I guess asking how to respond when he asks me why I’m leaving will be a future open thread question…

        1. Wheezy Weasel*

          I’d ask yourself if it’s really a choice between pushing you out or a different style and not a good match, but frame it as a problem that’s preventing you from operating effectively.

          ‘Boss, in order for me to feel comfortable that I’m doing my work acceptably and can be responsive to our customers/colleagues, I need to meet with you X times per week on a standing basis. We haven’t been able to do that. If we’re not able to meet on a standing basis, how would you like me to communicate with you where there are areas that I need your direction?”

          I’ve also told/negotiated with some of my supervisors that I will adapt to their communication style and use my own judgement based on the ways things have been handled in the past, but if something comes up out of the ordinary, I will need to speak to them for some direction on how to handle it. Then I’ll use that information to frame my response to similar problems, and again contact them if things vary too far from the first situation.

          If those fail to work, you might consider escalating to the level above, even if thats the CEO. In that conversation, you’re looking to get a problem solved that is hurting the business itself…you’re not operating efficiently if you can’t communicate effectively with your manager.

          1. Hatty*

            That framing is really helpful, thank you so much. I’ll try saying something like you suggested and maybe add the “here’s what I intend to spend my time on in the near future, if you want to go in another direction, let me know” thing that I’ve seen suggested here for unresponsive bosses before. And as much as I hate to think this way, if a problem because of bad communication DOES come up at least I’ll have some documentation that I tried to initiate contact more than once.

            I have a feeling this situation will come out eventually and may not go well. A friend from HR happened to ask how we were getting along, and I said “fine but we haven’t talked for more than a few minutes here and there, so it’s hard to say just yet.” Apparently 1:1 meetings are mandatory for supervisors and their direct reports at this level in our reporting structure, and my boss was told this weeks ago. I feel really guilty now, and hope that doesn’t cause any problems but we’ll see how that shakes out, I guess.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I chat with my boss often, as stuff comes up. We have official one-on-one meetings only twice a year, though.

    6. SophieChotek*

      I work remotely from my boss; but officially, we touch base on the phone about every two weeks.
      But we probably email almost every day.
      And my boss is very open and tells me to text/call him if anything comes up, so I don’t feel disconnected from him.

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      My boss works at another location. I see her in person probably once a week, if that. We mostly communicate via email and (much to my chagrin) text. Sometimes we have phone conferences with my work partner. Now the work partner has given her two weeks’, so we’ll all have a REAL meeting together next week for an hour or so. This will be the first of its kind in the six months that I’ve been employed here.

      Unless I’ve been assigned a project, I don’t have actual work to do. I’m sure she’s aware of that, but my boss doesn’t really offer any self-development ideas, nor does she set up trainings or sessions with people I should be getting to know.

      She is not a good boss, but part of the problem is just the distance. Out of sight, out of mind.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I should also mention that we do NOT communicate regularly. It’s totally random. I’ve gone nearly two weeks without seeing/hearing from her.

    8. it happens*

      I don’t understand why you believe that not meeting with you means that you’re about to lose your job. You mention both a reorganization of departments and that you have a unique, required position. Your manager may be both overwhelmed and sufficiently confident in your activities that she hasn’t gotten around to you.

      It just sounds like there’s a lot of change – you don’t really know what her objectives are and she doesn’t know yours. Obviously communication has not been a priority – try to help her out a little so she can help you.In my experience, weekly 1:1 with the boss are normal, but it’s also normal for the subordinate to put together an agenda of the items that need to be dealt with (the boss will have additional items, but won’t know what’s important to the subordinate.) So, to help her understand what you do, it may make sense to put together a brief document that outlines your objectives for the year, and your progress to date on them and then a very brief weekly update email. Do you have any specific request that you need her to fulfill? Another department that’s hindering your work? A question of judgment that you need another opinion on? Something like that might make her respond to you.

      Good luck

    9. AliceBD*

      In my current position, I have weekly official meetings to go through everything. We’re also one desk apart though, so we at least say hi and do smalltalk for a few mins every day, and I can ask her stuff pretty much anytime she’s at her desk if it’s something urgent that is too complicated for email. We email/IM multiple times a day. In my previous position at the same company I didn’t have official meetings with my boss but we sat next to each other; in that department as long as someone isn’t on the phone and they’re at their desk you just turn around/walk over a desk/walk up and get their attention and start talking.

      At my previous company I started on a grant-funded project where we all met all the time to go through stuff; no official one-on-ones except for reviews but the entire project team was in and out of each other’s areas all the time. Then I transitioned into a position where I had a micromanaging boss who didn’t really do anything but required me to keep him up-to-date on everything I did (every time I changed from doing one thing to another thing I told him) so he could act like “we” were doing stuff. They caught on and fired him, and then I had a boss who didn’t really understand what I was doing but would try to answer any questions I had, and just let me do my thing.

    10. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

      I rarely speak with my boss, but he knows exactly what I’m working on and sometimes I get e-mailed instructions from him. My team lead comes around once in a while, very informally, once a week or so – not for a one-on-one but for a quick “hi, how’s it going, any questions?”

    11. Dot Warner*

      I work night shift and my bosses are on day shift. I haven’t seen any of them since last December. :) We do communicate by email regularly, though.

    12. NicoleK*

      I work for a specialty medical provider. I’ve been with the company since January and have yet to have an one on one meeting with my boss or any of my bosses (I provide coverage for 3 clinics and have 3 bosses). I guess it’s not the norm for this niche industry.

  22. GrandCanyonJen*

    When I started my current job 3 years ago, I was the first vegetarian on staff. Every Friday morning we have a staff breakfast (different groups of staff members take turns preparing or purchasing food on their own time/dime). My coworkers have been very kind in including me by making sure there are one or two dishes I can eat, and I truly appreciate their efforts. I believe if it were not for me, virtually all of the dishes would contain meat (I’m still the only vegetarian there).

    After my aunt passed away of an illness that appears to run in my family, I became a vegan for health reasons. I work in a school, and this was near the end of this past school year. At the last breakfast before summer break, one of my colleagues helpfully pointed out that one of the casseroles was made without meat. Not surprisingly, it was made with eggs and cheese. I didn’t eat any of it, but it got me to thinking…I certainly don’t expect my coworkers to provide a vegan option for me now. And I don’t want them to go to extra work to make a vegetarian dish that I will no longer eat, especially if in general the staff prefers dishes with meat.

    So how do I communicate this to them? Would an all-staff e-mail at the beginning of the school year (next week!) be appropriate? (We do send e-mails back and forth about staff breakfast, so this would not be an unusual topic.) I think that would be the best way to make sure everyone receives the message, because I know I won’t find time to talk to each staff members individually and I do not attend staff meetings. But how do I word it to not seem ungrateful or like I expect them to provide dishes for me? “Thanks for including me in the past, but I’m vegan now, so please don’t go to any trouble to make vegetarian dishes anymore” is the heart of the message, but obviously quite abrupt. Any ideas?

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Are you going to be bringing your own food to the breakfast? If so, I would just email something like, “Thank you everyone for being supportive by bringing vegetarian dishes over the last three years! For health reasons I’m eating vegan now and will be bringing my own food on Fridays but I want to thank you all for your thoughtfulness.” Or something like that. For the amount of details YMMV. Every school I’ve worked in an email would be more than fine.

      1. Dawn*

        Your co-workers sound super nice! Seconding the nice email mentioned above. I bet people will start trying to bring fruit or vegan-friendly pastries for you in the new school year.

      2. Beefy*

        I really like this phrasing! I’m a vegetarian, and I field a lot of questions surrounding vegetarian and vegan diets. For one thing, many people don’t know the difference! One issue with other people trying to bring vegan-friendly items is that sometimes, they’re going to miss the mark, just because they don’t truly understand what being vegan entails. (I’m looking at you, gelatin, you sneaky bastard!) At my office potlucks, I bring my own dish, and I think that’s going to be the best approach for you as well. I’d much rather do that than discover (sometimes the hard way) that someone thinks seafood, chicken stock, or even chicken is going to be a viable vegetarian option for me.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Well, first of all, it’s pretty easy to provide vegan options. Peach & avocado salad! Smoothies made with almond milk! etc.

      But if you want to stop being involved, I’d say something like this: “Hi all! I wanted to let you know that I’ve made some changes to my diet that are more restrictive, and I’m not going to be able to participate in the breakfast rotation any more.” They can draw their own conclusions about whether to keep making vegetarian options (which I’m quite sure others enjoy, even if they aren’t vegetarians themselves).

    3. INFJ*

      If they were willing to bring in vegetarian options in the past, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be happy to bring in vegan options now. It will help if you can point them towards specific foods and brands of store-bought items that are appropriate (e.g., bagels). (If you give specific brands that are always OK for those items, then everyone doesn’t have to remember to check for l-cystine and white sugar.)

      If you think that sounds too bossy to offer those suggestions without solicitation, you can keep the email to something along the lines of, “Thanks for providing vegetarian dishes at Friday staff breakfasts. I am now eating vegan; feel free to reach out if you have questions or want suggestions”

      Good luck! And I’m glad to hear that you’ve made a choice that will not only improve your health, but the health of the planet, too.

    4. Hibiscus*

      “Hey friends–I wanted to say a couple things. One you have all been the best over the past couple of years trying to make sure there are vegetarian options for me at Friday breakfast. I have never gone hungry, and I really appreciate it. It is fantastic to work with such a great team.

      But I have made some additional changes lately to stave off diseases that run in the family and gone vegan–which means I’m not eating any animal products, even eggs and cheese. I don’t expect anyone to learn how to cook dishes for me or provide a vegan option. I just wanted to let you know upfront in case there’s any question of why I’m not eating those fluffy cheese eggs Silencia makes, and avoid any hurt feelings.

      And if anyone is interested in plant based diets or wants to talk whole foods and swap recipes–I’m your person!”

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Yes! We do the same thing at my school (until the OP mentioned that back-to-school is next week, I was like…are we on the same staff?), and if I got this email I would absolutely reach out to the sender if I had questions about whether my contributions would meet their dietary needs.

      2. Nye*

        I think this wording is good, but might leave off the last line. It skirts up to the line of vegan proselytizing (though is the gentlest way to do it), especially given that the coworkers are pretty avowedly carnivores.

        GrandCanyonJen, you sound like a lovely and thoughtful person who doesn’t want to push your choices on others. That’s probably why your (also lovely-sounding) coworkers have been so willing to cook vegetarian options in the past. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try some vegan options for you now, but I think your instinct not to push this is a good one.

        Personally, I’m a happy omnivore who loves to cook, and will periodically try to accommodate friends and co-workers on restrictive diets. However, this is definitely a challenge when you’re talking something like vegan. I’d resent it if I felt like my friends just expected me to accommodate their various dietary choices. But since they don’t, I enjoy treating them to something delicious that they can eat.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I like a couple of the suggestions here. Definitely start with a thank you and how much you have appreciated their thoughtfulness over the last few years and then you can simply say that due to some health concerns you have chosen to go vegan so will not be able to eat the delicious offerings they have brought in the past. I wouldn’t give any suggestions or put in a line about if they still want to bring something you can eat to get in touch. It sounds a bit presumptuous. If the tone comes across as “thank you for all you have done to make me feel like a part of the team and since I made a change for reasons I wanted to make sure you didn’t go through any trouble just for me when I can no longer enjoy it”. Someone might ask you for some suggestions and if I were you I would offer to bring something in that meets your dietary requirements and others will enjoy.

    6. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

      To be honest, I wouldn’t mention you’re specifically going vegan. I’d leave it at ‘a more restrictive diet for health/medical reasons.’ If folks want to follow up for details with you they can. So few people understand what vegan means that you want to discourage all but the few willing to really do their homework from even trying.

  23. Fenchurch*

    How to get my team on board with a project they think is a “waste of our time”?

    We did the whole Gallup employee survey thing and my manager decided it would be a great stretch project for me to lead our team in the action project to help either better our score next time around or keep it high. We scored pretty damn high (4.5+ as an overall satisfaction out of 5) and my team feels like a project is not necessary.

    I’m thinking of keeping the overall scope very small, as we clearly don’t need a lot of help with satisfaction. It’s difficult to get them on board with brainstorming and I’m getting a lot of resistance from specialists on the team…

    Any ideas of how to make this work?

    1. Pwyll*

      Does the action project have to do with solving problems, or are we talking volunteer work?

      Did the survey have any indication of what the .5 decrease was? (I have to say I think I’m probably on your coworkers’ side here). Is it possible to find out and turn your project into addressing whatever that is?

      1. Fenchurch*

        The only portion that we scored really low on is not something that I can fix (new technology that had a lot of issues causing us a lot of pain).

        One part that dipped a bit was regarding recognition for work done well. I was thinking of addressing this, and implementing a “kudos” as part of our weekly huddles. Giving the team a chance to bring up each other’s accomplishments each week.

        1. Pwyll*

          So, I’m not generally a fan of “forced kudos”. I find them a bit patronizing (once it becomes forced you end up with stuff like: “Snaps for Julia for writing that report that is her job! Yay!”)

          That said, could you instead turn this project into providing that advice to your boss? Something like, “One of the improvement steps we had from the survey was increasing recognition. I’m really taking it upon myself to be more proactive in our huddles to recognize my coworkers, can you make it a point to do the same?” Once more than one of you start taking that time, I’ve found it to be more organic and others will start to follow suit, without the feeling that it’s forced or a bandaid/knee-jerk solution to the bad survey results.

          1. UnCivilServant*

            I’m generally not a fan of kudos period. But that’s just because they tend to come from people who don’t understand my job and they end up gushing over the things that are really simple for me, while completely missing or glossing over those areas where I had to put in the greatest effort to get things done right.

            It comes off as unintentionally patronizing. I know they don’t mean it, that’s why I’d rather they not do it, because it has a negative impact on my morale.

            1. ScarletInTheLibrary*


              I have gotten to the point that I dread being next on the list to get kudos. Or feeling pretty deflated when those that get what I do give kudos to everyone.

        2. Chaordic One*

          I hope you’ll at least acknowledge the new technology that has a lot of issues causing pain. In my old job we went through an extremely difficult transition to a new cloud-based computer system that did not work as well as the one it replaced, was unintuitive to use, added a lot of extra steps, cut into productivity and created a lot of extra stress. Supposedly, over time they were going to get the bugs out, but I never saw any evidence they were trying.

          Management refused to acknowledge that any problem existed and painted anyone who pointed out the problems as being “resistant to change”, which only fed the feeling that they were out-of-touch and not supporting the workers on the front line dealing with customers and branch offices.

          I hope you’ll thank you team for their patience (they certainly didn’t choose to have this new technology foisted on them) and apologize for the difficulties the new technology has caused, while acknowledging that you are unable to do anything about it. It would be even better if you could get some of your supervisors to also do so.

    2. Sualah*

      My company does a big Gallup survey thing, too, and we have to come up with action plans for our lowest and our highest scores. The logic for doing the highest one is, “OK, what do you think is going so well? Why are you so satisfied? Let’s make sure we keep doing that.” So it’s not really a waste, to let our manager know that we really appreciate how she lets us manage our own time and projects, and how we like having quarterly team meals (lunch or breakfast), but don’t want after hours events. Because what if part of the “satisfaction” was spending time with coworkers, but your manager interpreted that as after hours events, and none of you wanted that?

      Yes, if part of the satisfaction is not having meetings, and now you have to have meetings about how to keep satisfied, that’s a little contradictory, but I don’t think brainstorming on what’s going well is necessarily a waste. And it doesn’t have to be meetings, if you can set up online polls or something, that can get you the feedback your boss wants.

    3. Gene*

      If the goal of the project is to actually improve something that isn’t working, you probably need to clearly explain that.

      If the goal of the project is just to get the number up, they’re right, it’s a waste of their time. And you shouldn’t do things that are a manifest waste of time. I think you should take your team’s feelings into account and look closely at the reason for the project.

  24. Bowserkitty*

    A few weeks ago I said things were going to turn around. And I tried. My depression has gotten so bad that my motivation has fallen and my work ethic has gone to crap. The icing on the cake was when a mistake happened over a misunderstanding for something I hadn’t been trained on (a bit of a long story to explain but I can if you want), and I had an anxiety attack over it. Later that day at the I was chatting with my friend who referred me to the job and I told her what was going on. She said I’m doing far more than what was described in the posting and it sounds like I’m overwhelmed. I never considered that but she’s right. I thought it was my own inability to keep up. Maybe it is?

    My last conference of the season/year ends today so I think that will allow me to focus more on everything else. I have to maintain hope it’s going to get better. I don’t want to up my meds if I don’t have to but I’m thinking I may need to soon.

    1. Bowserkitty*

      also, somebody’s made bacon around here and that’s all I can focus on. *twitch* (it smells amazing)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You gave me a pep talk, so I’m going to give you one. Work should not give you anxiety attacks. Are you still searching? Because that might be the answer– and it might give you something that helps you feel more in control.

      As far as your meds go… If that’s the short-term solution, then do it. But I’ve been there and I’ve been resistant to it to. Just know that as long as you and your doctor discuss it, it’s ok. If that’s what you need to get you through the short-term, you do it.

      Good luck! I’ll try to send you some of those positive vibes you sent me. :)

      1. Colette*

        Related to thinking about looking – does your manager know how overwhelmed you feel? Can you discuss cutting back on what you do?

    3. The Butcher of Luverne*

      Maybe adjusting your meds is not such a bad thing…? If they helped a little before, maybe they can be much more helpful if increased….

    4. Elizabeth West*

      No suggestions other than if you need to up meds, do it. You may not need them at that level forever, just long enough to get back on track. It’s not a defeat in any way–you’re just managing your condition.

      Also, hugs *and grabs your avatar and attacks the word depression–rawwr!*

    5. Mreasy*

      Not that mess are the answer, but I’ve had great success with an an anti-anxiety to take to treat panic attacks when they start. These keeps them from derailing my day, which can cause a downward depression spiral. Generally not suitable with any history of addiction, but I haven’t had any issues at all with overdoing it. Sometimes just knowing they’re there can calm me down without taking anything.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen where anxiety attacks can be triggered by feeling UNsupported.

      Your friend sounds like a gem. Ask her to help you make a list of things that she feels is beyond the call of duty. Actually write a list on paper. Then go in and talk to your boss. Let her know that you have too much on your plate, you need training, etc. Show the boss your list you have and let her know this is what you have been trying to do.

  25. Simplytea*

    How did you realize what you want to do? Recently, I’ve been learning a lot about what I DON’T want to do, which has refined my sense of what kind of work style I want to have, what projects I want to work on, what field I want to work in, and what kind of manager I want to be (when I become one). But mostly it’s been process by elimination…

    Has anyone had a different experience? I’d love to hear!

    Thanks :)

    1. Canton*

      For me it is also just a process of elimination – you don’t really know what you like or enjoy until you actually try it. The only thing that could really help move along the process for you to actively search out new experiences and then you’ll know whether or not that works for you.

      1. Lemon Zinger*


        For most people, the first few jobs are pure elimination of things that we realize we don’t like doing. Even if you fall into the right industry, you may still need to narrow down what you do and don’t like about it, and what roles would best suit you.

    2. Ordinary Worker*

      48 years old, still don’t know what I want to do. I am making the best I can with what I’m actually doing even though I don’t really find it challenging or fulfilling.

    3. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      It was a process of elimination for me as well. It was also a realization that I enjoyed doing certain things but not in certain industries. For example, I was previously doing business analyst type work in the financial field and was MISERABLE. After some insight from a mentor, I realized that I liked the types of things business analysts do but I did not like doing it with financial information. Now I’m working for a major home improvement retailer as a business analyst and I love it!

      I also had to work as a manger for awhile to realize that I really don’t like managing people but I do like managing projects. Life would be so wonderful if I just knew what I wanted to do and how, why, where etc. Some people are lucky enough to know this, most are not and have to figure it out through experience. I think what you are dealing with is very normal.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Echoing others: I had a fairly clear sense of what I wanted to do… until I turned 25, and then I was suddenly in a career crisis, because I didn’t want to do that any more. I bounced around a few careers, and now I’m doing something I want to be doing for at least the next five years. Does it have to be a lifelong commitment? I don’t regret doing any of the things I did before my current job…

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Well, I’ve had to define my professional life by what I CAN’T do (math-y stuff). So most of my jobs are just that–jobs. They only pay the bills; I don’t do them because I want to. I choose them by the following criteria:

      1. No accounting or budgeting
      2. Pay
      3. Hours (no evenings or weekends)
      4. Preferably no phones

      I’ve been reading my horoscope on MSN UK* for a laugh, and weirdly, for the last three days it’s been emphasizing new job new career things are going smoothly about to go your way, etc. etc. etc. I know it’s bogus, but part of me can’t help hoping it’s right!

      *It’s always MSN UK; since spending five weeks there, my Firefox browser refuses to load the US version. It just will. not. do. it. It apparently thinks we’re still there.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah…that’s pretty much how I’m feeling these days. But everyone wants you to do payroll and/or event planning and/or travel these days, which screws me. Or phones. Or “first point of contact.” Seriously, you do not want to ask me about your money!

        It’s pretty much guess and check. I fell into the jobs I liked, I got dropped into this one I didn’t, found out the easy or hard way.

    6. themmases*

      Basically the same. I am just working my greedy algorithm way through life, swimming away from stuff I don’t want to do and towards what I do want to do (or what nice people offer me, or what seems lucrative and non-evil…)

      At some point a few years ago I sat down and wrote up a general description of my ideal type of work, environment, coworkers, etc. It pretty much describes a research environment so now I go for skills and accomplishments I am willing to keep using that I think will make me valuable enough to stay in one. I’m flexible about the specific type of research and it’s been really useful to learn that about myself.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I left my job yesterday. I didn’t mean to, but it happened. I’ve been miserable, and some recent changes made it worse. I spent every day hoping I wouldn’t make a mistake, and any mistake became a crisis. I came back from vacation and spent the whole week crying, basically. My boss and I had a conversation on Monday about general stuff during which he said, “If this isn’t for you, I will help you, you need to be happy, etc.” So yesterday I said yeah, I’m not happy, and he said, “OK, then, I think this should be your last day.” I wanted to see my current projects through, but he said no, I brought them to a place where they can be handed off easily now, so best to just do it.

    It’s not the worst thing in the world– they’re being generous with me and, again, I was so miserable– but I haven’t been without a job since 2004. I know a lot of people have been through this (including the girlfriend I texted who came over immediately)… what should I do? I’ve already sent in a few applications and reached out to some people in my network, and my now-former co-workers have my resume (they were shocked and upset but very supportive), but I just feel so lost. I have a reasonably good cushion so I don’t need something TOMORROW, but part of me wants to run over to the local fancy bookstore and put in an application (because hey, I loved working retail and I was great at selling books!). People talk about “funemployment”, but all I seem to be able to do right now is cry and try not to panic. Something a little more constructive would be very much appreciated!

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Your boss is amazing, it seems. I’m kind of going through a similar thing right now (the mistakes and stuff) so I sympathize.

      I think that retail job is a fantastic idea. During my unemployment I considered doing that at a popular lingerie store but the credit card pushing turned me off of it. Just remember to breathe and RELAX. Think of it as a mini vacation. Focus on yourself, your health and wellbeing, and continue to push your resume out when you find something that sounds like you want to do. You must look at this at the good thing it truly is!

      1. Dawn*

        “Just remember to breathe and RELAX. Think of it as a mini-vacation. Focus on yourself, your health and wellbeing…”


        Put in an application for the bookstore! It sounds like your last job has left you super stressed and burnt out, and you NEED to recover from that before you are going to be able to give 100% to ANY job.

        Give yourself a week or two to just do NOTHING. Relax, clean the house, go to that park you’ve always wanted to go to, do your grocery shopping in the middle of the day when the store isn’t packed with people, go for walks in the morning, start reading those books you’ve not had time for… RELAX. It will clear your head and put you in a much better mental position to start applying for other jobs!

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          THIS! Giving myself a week or so to focus on self-care was so helpful when I was unemployed. At first I felt kind of dejected, but then I was able to turn that into productivity. I took care of my apartment MUCH better– it became my hobby, in a way. Like, if I wasn’t going to have a job, I might as well make homemaking my job for the time being.

    2. amysee*

      A while back a friend was terminated from a very, very toxic workplace. She had needed to find a new job but her head was so messed up from toxic job that she couldn’t sell herself well or even see that she was worthy of employment. She managed to get a temporary, part-time job, and it really helped her heal… she regained a lot of confidence and physical/mental health. As the temp position was winding down she was able to ramp up the job search and find something she really liked.

      Maybe a bookstore job would be similarly therapeutic for you? Regardless I hope things start looking up for you very soon.

    3. Jesmlet*

      There’s nothing wrong with taking a few weeks just to relax and get yourself back to a place of calm. Don’t let anyone tell you you need to start blitzing out those applications. Good employers won’t care that there are a few weeks or months in between and the best employers will hear you when you say your last job wasn’t a good situation and actually take the time to understand why.

      I went from a job where I was miserable, concerned for my safety and constantly cranky or depressed, to a job where my coworkers are fantastic, the work is manageable and I don’t dread waking up every morning. If you walk into an interview and meet people you would actually want in your life outside of work, or where you would be doing a job that you would actually enjoy, that’s when you know you’ve found the right place. The bookstore sounds like a great idea. Doing something you love is great for your spirit and great for your confidence. If after a while you want to move onto a different job, you’ll go into it refreshed and positive and that makes all the difference.

    4. Mustache Cat*

      Some of the best and most rewarding jobs I had were part-time jobs! I couldn’t stick with them because of ambition/financial concerns but yes, if a bookstore sounds fun for you, please go for it. Use this time between full-time jobs to recharge and rest.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, OMG my favorite job was part-time with no benefits, as an office clerk in a materials lab. If it were full-time with benefits and the place were still open, I might still be there even though the pay was dismal. Because I LOVED it.

    5. zora.dee*

      Seconding all of the advice to just take some time to relax, sleep and recover. I left the job that was giving me panic attacks, and it took me a few weeks to remember what it even felt like to NOT wake up every night at 4 am with a panic attack!

      If you want the part-time work to help keep you busy and from worrying, go for it. But what I needed more than that was time to get back to non-panic land, which involved sleeping a lot, cleaning my house, watching tv, etc. If you need to ‘do something’, work on lists for your job search. To do lists, create the template spreadsheet to track job applications, lists of what you do want and don’t want in your next job.

      And one thing that really helped me was some sort of journaling about myself to help me with Job Trauma Recovery. One friend told me to make a list every day of 3 things that I’m good at or that I did really well that day. It sometimes included things like “I’m a really great friend.” Or “I’m good at deep cleaning my fridge.” but it really helped get out of that place in my head where I thought I was totally screwed forever and would never get a job again. Look at some things online/free resources to help overcome anxiety and focus on positive things/reset your brain.

      I’m glad you got out!! You will recover and feel so much better eventually, I promise!

    6. Camellia*

      Will you be able to collect unemployment? If so, you might not be able to take a job without losing your unemployment benefits. If the pay at the new job doesn’t meet your financial needs, that is probably not a good idea.

      However, if the pay DOES meet your needs then it might be just the thing for you.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Unemployment in my state is kind of a joke. I’d almost rather be working at something temporary yet enjoyable than bother with unemployment. But I think no matter what, I have to chill out a bit. I do have a small package, so I’m ok for the time being.

      2. higheredrefugee*

        I was thinking the same thing re: unemployment. If that’s the case, find a low-key volunteer gig instead. When I was job searching, I took some shifts in the Used Book Sale Room at our local library a couple times a week, which got me (a) out of the house and (b) connected to random retired people who were more than happy to share job leads and connections.

        But yes, do take some time to take care of yourself and your home space. I found that time to be great for purging stuff and unearthing books I loved and hobbies I had neglected. Good luck!

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just want to thank everyone for being so nice and understanding. It’s been quite a 24 hours, and I still haven’t processed everything yet. This weekend is going to be very, very difficult for me. I’m already experiencing depression-related lack of appetite, which might help with my weight loss plan but is no good for my well-being. I just scarfed down some chicken.

      My boyfriend caught me on Indeed and told me to quit it until next week. He’s right– there’s no point in looking for something now, nor is there a good reason to email people on Friday. In my industry (and in many others), Fridays in the summer are dead zones anyway. I’m taking his (and your) advice.

      I’m also trying actively not to panic too much. And plan a day trip to the beach.

      In kind of weird news, I submitted a resume at 9am and got a call from the company at 10:30. A phone screen. Do I want this particular job? I’m willing to explore it, for sure, but it’s not my top choice. Still feels kind of nice that at least I can get one phone call.

      1. LuvThePets*

        I found myself in a very similar situation this May. After two years of extremely stressful, heartbreaking work, my company and I parted ways very unexpectedly. It’s the first time in my life when I did not leave on my own terms. But the stress alone of being unsuccessful and stressed in that job was killing me, and my family. Though we need my income, and not having a backup job was stress in itself, my blood pressure immediately went down by a couple of points and my anxiety has stayed down. I believe enough in myself (and personally am a person of faith) to know that my skills and abilities will ensure that I will be needed and employed or able to contract/freelance. I started making plans for freelancing in the interim while sending out applications, and my personal good news is that I am starting my new, much less stress, and much better paying/benefits position on the 15th. If you were anywhere near as stressed or miserable as I was, see this as a blessing. I would not have quit my job on my own. Sometimes we need help getting out of negative, harmful situations. Take care and take it one step at a time looking for the opportunity that will bring you blessings instead of harm.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Aw, honey.

      I’m late catching up to this and I don’t have much to say other than big hugs for you.

      Take a breath. Play some video games, watch Netflix, cook a bunch of things you’ve always wanted to, bake bread or do whatever it is you want to to decompress. You have a strong career history and you’re going to land fine.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You must have some kind of weird telepathy, because I just made a very conscious decision to spend some quality time perfecting my bread game. :)

        And thank you. Your kind words mean so much. I’m trying hard to breathe, and I know I’ll be ok eventually.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Making bread is a great stress reducer! And a giver of great accomplishments! Plus, bonus, you get bread!

    9. Not Me*

      I know I’m late responding to this, but I will anyway on the off chance that you’ll see it. I’m a regular poster but this is my pen name for when I want to share tough job struggles since I think a coworker reads here.

      I’m in a really similar situation right now. I’m not happy with my job and I realize I haven’t been for a long, long time. I should have left it a year ago but I kept thinking things would get better; instead, they’ve gotten progressively worse. Things finally came to a head several weeks ago and I found myself in HR, facing a bunch of weird accusations and a PIP. My anxiety and depression reached a critical mass and I ended up feeling suicidal and…..well, I was a really big mess. I couldn’t eat or sleep or concentrate. All I did was cry and think about dramatic ways to leave my job for good. Like you, I was in panic mode. (Sometimes I still am, but time has made it slightly better).

      After a month of FMLA leave and a bunch of new medications (thanks to some very concerned and empathetic doctors), I’m feeling much better and I can clearly see that my job is a super unhealthy situation for me and I can’t go back to it. I’m fortunate that I may be able to transfer internally to a different team that’s got better management. If that transfer comes through then I’ll take it gladly; otherwise, I’ll have to make other arrangements.

      Life is short. Take care of yourself and if that means short-term medication then that’s OK. Sometimes we need that to be able to cope with our current situation. I think your idea of a part-time job doing something you love sounds awesome and it’s something I hadn’t thought of for myself, so thank you for that. I could probably stretch my savings out to six months or more if I had something part-time to augment it.

      Hang in there. This time next year, we will both look back on this period and be able to say that we got through it and came out better on the other side.

  27. Gaia*

    I manage a small group as part of a very large department. In my group I have Felicia. Felicia performs adequately but she has a terrible attitude. She complains about everything from being too busy (we’re all very busy) to the way customers speak to her (our customers are overall very polite and professional due to our industry), the meetings she attends (the group attends them to get a better understanding of where the company is going) the temperature at her desk (although we’ve offered her a fan she refuses to use it), the volume of her coworkers when they are talking to clients and customers. The list literally goes on and on. She is currently on a final warning for this onslaught of complaining because it is done outloud, at her desk, to her coworkers as opposed to more appropriate venues. It has an actual and real impact on the morale and productivity of the team.

    Well now we add a new wrinkle. She recently went on 2 weeks of PTO which is fine. However the night before she went she had a meeting in her last two hours. She should have put herself “away” so she wouldn’t be asked any more workflows but she didn’t and as such she had to reassign several at the end of her shift so they would be completed. When this is done, an email needs to be sent to the management group so we can track it and ensure it gets done. The email wasn’t sent. It seems like an attempt to hide the error of not putting herself away. We only know she did this because a manager noticed the workflows in her box at the end of Felicia’s shift and then suddenly gone (reassigned).

    Felicia comes back from PTO Monday and we have to discuss this but really? I’m at the end of my rope. She’s not a great performer, she complains about everything without offering any real solutions. She’s terrible at handling change. And now this. I guess I am just doubting whether this is really enough to fire someone? I’ve never been the one to have to make the decision before and I hesitate. Thoughts?

    1. fposte*

      She’s on a final warning and she blew something. You really think you couldn’t get somebody better, and that team morale wouldn’t rise if you did? Take a tip from AvonLady Barksdale’s boss above and manage her departure with great kindness, but do it.

      1. Gaia*

        Thank you. I think I really just needed to hear that it wasn’t an overreaction on my part. As I said, I’ve never had to be the one to make the call before (first management role and in more than 2 years everyone else has been great) so this is really tough.

    2. Dawn*

      “I guess I am just doubting whether this is really enough to fire someone?”

      YES. You have my permission. I promise that every single person at your company within earshot of Felicia is SICK of hearing her complain and is probably cleaning up after her “adequate” work in ways you might not be aware of. When you fire her, and you should, I bet that employee satisfaction and work output both increase.

      1. Gaia*

        Oh I know they are sick of it. I hear it regularly. It is why I fought to put her on a warning for it (my manager was concerned it would run afoul of laws that protect her right to discuss work conditions. But she isn’t discussing anything – she is ranting at people that don’t want to hear it).

        1. Dawn*

          There is a HUUUUUGE difference between “Gaia, I have serious concerns about [workplace thing that is illegal]” and being a Ranty Rantface who Rants all the time. Felicia is absolutely falling into the second category!

    3. Menacia*

      OMG, I worked with the male Felicia for 12 years…and I am the one who volunteered to clean out his cubicle when he was finally fired (for a security breach because he thought he was so slick). The crap that I found (that was not done, or was kept for no reason) was unbelievable. He was a complainer, tried to push off as much as possible to others, never took responsibility for anything, and saved things that had no reason to be saved (documentation on systems we sh*t-canned years ago, empty boxes for shipping things, floppy disks and CDs of old software). I am so pissed that he was allowed to stay (with many accommodations, I might add) for so long, He was even told to seek assistance for his “stress” so that he would stop complaining but he never did. The HR person who told us he was fired likened him to a malignancy in the organization, and I had to agree but why did it take so long? I was going to post a vent today, but hopefully this response will be enough to get it out (though I did not mean to hijack your post!).

      People like Felicia and Mr. Felicia really affect the morale of the team, if you have no already, please start documenting the issues so you have what you need to start the process.

      1. Gaia*

        The never taking responsibility thing is a big issue for me. She makes careless mistakes and when pointed out says “oh well, we’re all just human” Yea, but as a human you are capable of glancing over your work to make sure you typed it correctly.

        The more I think about it the more I am sure she needs to go. There is a small chance we won’t be allowed to replace her but even that would be better than keeping her.

        1. higheredrefugee*

          The latter part is the truth for particularly your high performers – they die a little inside every time they take on an extra project and see her skate by. Those team members will be happy to pick up the slack if you aren’t allowed to replace her just in partial gratitude for all the bad managers they’ve had in the past that have allowed poor performers to stay on the team.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Whoa. Those errors are pretty egregious. She had a last warning, but she still messed up. I would definitely fire her if I were in your shoes.

    5. kbeersosu*

      I’m going to respond to this in lyric form, thanks to the fabulous Kacey Musgraves…

      “And you… can’t win unless you lose
      You try to tell me you want happiness
      But you ain’t happy unless
      You’re miserable”

      Some people just love being miserable. Sounds like your Felicia to me!

  28. Lauren*

    This is Fiesta week (officially Old Spanish Days) in my town. It started Wednesday night and runs through Sunday. Lots of visitors and downtown gets crazy. Like many long-time locals, I avoid the area for these days but yesterday at work my department had a Fiesta feast. We all brought Mexican food to share. I customized the Salsa Especial (from Trader Joe’s) into three heat levels: mild, medium and hot. It was much appreciated. And I have leftovers!

    Mild: salsa + cilantro + some minced onion and garlic + a little lime juice and zest + salt

    Medium: salsa + nice amount of cilantr0 + nice amounts of minced onion and garlic + nice amounts of lime juice and zest + salt + a bit of de-seeded and de-stemmed jalapeno

    Hot: salsa + serious amount of cilantr0 + serious amounts of minced onion and garlic + good amounts of lime juice and zest + salt + a whole minced jalapeno (with stems and seeds)

    1. SophieChotek*

      Oo – yum! Sounds good. I’ll take some of those leftovers.
      (Actually my dad grows habanero peppers and other kinds and makes great home made salsa; he said he might make some this weekend — then I’ll get some!) His last batch was so great.

    2. LA Gaucho*

      Ole, ole, ole, ole!

      I miss Fiesta week! You’ve inspired me to definitely go next year :)

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Darn it, now I want salsa! I usually have some in the work fridge for snacking (with cucumbers or celery) but I don’t have any today.

    4. Bex*

      Awwwwwww…. I miss Fiesta. I don’t miss finding confetti everywhere for the next three months!

  29. WS*

    My boss (who’s also one of the owners of the company) has been having major issues with our accountant/secretary. My office is adjacent to hers and every day I have to hear him loudly berate her about something new. Now he’s making me double-check her work, or look up tracking information for deliveries she was supposed to receive, and ask her about where missing items are. My boss then goes into her office five minutes after I give him the info to confront her about why she couldn’t have double-checked any of that herself.

    I’ll admit that she does make mistakes in her work sometimes and I’ve had it affect projects I’ve worked on in the past. But I don’t like being the one who has to monitor her work this way. She is now refusing to speak to me unless I have to ask her a direct question. I don’t need to make small-talk with her if she doesn’t want to, but I’m worried about her feelings towards me impacting my work relationship with her. (She is the only accountant with the company and is solely responsible for processing invoices and expense reports that I submit, and she does have a habit of prioritizing invoices submitted by people she likes.)

    I don’t know if I can get my boss to stop making me monitor her work, but is there any way to at least maintain a polite working relationship with this coworker while she’s giving me the cold shoulder? Or any way of making my requests for info less awkward in any way?

    1. fposte*

      Your workplace has a mistake-ridden accountant who sulks when called on her errors? Oh, boy.

      I think you can throw the problem out in the open with her as long as you’re not making it sound like she can’t be unhappy. “I know this is a change, Jane, but Bob’s asked for this new workflow; is there a way we can make it as smooth as possible and not lose our good working relationship? What’s the best way to do this for you?”

    2. Mike C.*

      Is the problem here that you want things to be nice between you and her or that you want her not to screw up or otherwise make you wait for your work to be finished?

      If it’s the latter, I would add your work to the list of things she missed. She shouldn’t be picking and choosing simply because she likes other people more.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I was feeling bad for her, until OP said that. Makes me wonder what else she is doing.

        I would just go with, “You know, if I had a choice here, we would not be doing this. But Boss has told me I have to do this. I know it’s not easy, but we both have to work and have an income. How can we make the best of this situation?”

    3. Observer*

      I think @fposte has good advice.

      You can’t get your boss to stop making you monitor her work. What you can do is be as polite and nice as you can about it. AND make sure that if she delays your work unreasonably that you document it and make sure that your boss knows. Don’t assume it’s going to happen, but if it does, keep your boss looped in and make sure she knows it.

      To be honest, though, your boss doesn’t sound like the best manager.

  30. anonanonanon*

    My situation at work is very frustrating. About a year ago, I applied for a manager role but was turned down because they said they wanted someone with more technical experience in our field. Well, the person they ended up hiring has NO EXPERIENCE in our field whatsoever and now a year into their job, they are still asking me questions on the basics, forwarding me emails with questions they cannot answer, and asking me to talk for them in meetings. You would think this would have been addressed by now, but it hasn’t. And I want to bring up my frustrations but it is hard because I want to do it professionally without sounding whiny and bitter. Thoughts?

    1. Rincat*

      Oof, that sucks. My advice is to think about what your desired outcome is – write it out and examine it. Think about ways you can realistically achieve that outcome in a professional manner. This helps me strategize when I have a situation like this, but I don’t know how to say something without sounding whiny. Often times, just saying out loud my desired outcome helps me deal with things internally and move past it.

      More specifically, I think I would talk to my boss again about moving into a manager role and what it would take, and try to leave out any mention of this other person. If your boss mentions them, you could throw something in there about them asking you questions all the time, but I would focus on you the most.

    2. Marcy*

      I think you should address it as a workload issue. You have your own job to do, and being bombared with manager-level questions and tasks is a drain on your ability to do your own job. Either the questions should be redirected to another resource, or your own workload needs to be correspondingly reduced. I guess the diplomatic way to ask this would be to ask your manager which you should prioritize on, your own workload, or answering other-manager’s questions.

      1. anonanonanon*

        It’s not even my workload, it’s more he was hired to do a job he can’t, while I could do it (obviously) but was turned down.

        1. Marcy*

          I know, but IMHO there’s no way of professionally saying “You should have hired me instead of that idiot.” First, it makes you sound petty and they will wonder if this guy is really that bad, or if you’re just complaining because of sour grapes. Second, you are essentially criticizing the decision of the person you’re talking to and people tend to be defensive of their decision, even if it is a bad decision. I think the best thing to do would be to (professionally) make the decision-maker feel the pain, which in this case means withdrawing your support and letting their unqualified hire fail.

          To the extent you can, you should also let this go emotionally. The decision has been made and the job has been filled. You should focus on rocking the job you have, so you can build yourself up for either another internal promotion, or a better job elsewhere. If it’s truly meant to be, this person will fail and they will realize you deserve the job and give it to you. If they don’t, you’re in a dysfunctional workplace and your energies would be better spent looking elsewhere.

        2. Marcy*

          I know that’s what frustrates you, but IMHO there is no professional way of saying you should have been hired instead of someone else. First, it sounds petty and will make your manager wonder if the guy is really all that bad, or if it’s just sour grapes on your part. Second, it might make your manager defensive, as people are usually emotionally invested in defending their decision, even if the decision produces bad results. The best you can do is show your manager why the decision was bad, by making him feel the professional pain. In this case, I think the easiest way to do that would be to withdraw support and let his new hire fail.

          To the extent you can, you should also try to create some emotional distance from this situation. It’s a sucky and frustrating situation, but the decision has been made and the position filled. It’s unlikely you can get it reversed. Focus now on kicking butt and getting the next promotion, or better yet, a better job at a new place. And who knows, maybe the guy will fail and your manager will see the light. To me the question would be why stay at a place that obviously doesn’t recognize your worth?

    3. Legalchef*

      This basically happened to me. I have no real advice other than sympathy. I started looking for a new job and am negotiating salary with a place that made me an offer that is really excited about me and wants to use my skills (and give me credit for those skills too).

    4. Rubyrose*

      Talk to your manager. Does she realize all of the requests you receive? Tell her it impacts your work and could you please tell them that from now on all requests for your time and knowledge have to be sent to your manager first, for her approval. If she signs onto this, make no exceptions.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        This. After a year, surely this person would have been trained or something? The longer you cover for this person, the longer they are going to stay there… until they get another promotion based on the good work you’ve been doing for them.

    5. Mike C.*

      Let all those requests drop so that the other person has plenty of rope to hang themselves with. Then when everyone understands first hand what a screw-up this person is, they’ll also realize that you can do this competently and things should start happening.

      While you’re waiting for this to happen, start looking for work elsewhere. If you get a great offer, awesome. If you don’t, you’re still working towards your goal while you wait for things at work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You can say, “Person, I know you have relied on me for some of your questions, but it has been a year now, and I really need to focus on my own work. I think if you have any questions that you can’t find the answer to, you need to check with Boss, or Other Coworker(s).”

        I think you can let your boss know what you are doing and why. “I have been answering his emails/questions for a year now. He is [asking the same questions over and over; emailing me numerous times a day; whatever thing is applicable here] and so I am telling him to stop because I need to focus on my own work. I am just letting you know in case you hear it elsewhere.”

    6. Bex*

      You might want to consider looking for a manager role at another company. If you were passed over for a promotion and then they hired someone under-qualified, it doesn’t really bode well for long term career growth.

  31. An anonymous vent*

    TGIF. One of the executives had his assistant quit on the spot last week and I’m tired of listening to him complain about it. It’s his fault she quit. One of her children has a disease that mostly isn’t fatal but is very rare and only has a couple of hundred or so diagnosed people in the world. Every year there is a week long get together at a big hotel and conference center, where those with the disease and their families can go for support. There are also doctors and researchers who attend and give talks.

    Even though it’s not our busy season and her having that sams week off every year was part of the benefits in her job offer, he denied her the week off because he hates being at work when his assistant is not here and only wanted her to take days when he is also off. The retiring executive he replaced wasn’t like this. Attending this conference is her lifeline she always said and like many others her family saves all year for the trip. When he denied her she handed him her ID card and walked out in tears. I felt bad for her. Now the rest of the support staff have been directed to help him until a new assistant is hired. The man is insufferable. He is complaining about not being able to figure out dialing out on the phone (hit 9) or how to use an electric stapler. I am counting down the minutes until I can go home. C’mon 5:00!

    1. Rincat*

      Oh wow. He sounds like a big jerk. I hope the best for the admin! Sorry you have to work for this guy. :(

      1. An anonymous vent*

        Thank you :) The office manager that supervises the support staff is great, and he is getting fed up with the executive as well and has our backs. I’m hoping his former assistant will be okay. She did a great job and people both inside and outside the company took notice.

        (Also that should say the *same* week off every year. Thank you autocorrect)

        1. Lauren*

          Sounds horrible. He wants his assistant to only take time off when he does? That’s awful–and that’s leaving aside the now-ex’s assistant genuine issue. I hope that when interviews for the new opening happen that someone notifies the candidates that this may be part of the requirement if that guy isn’t reined in. Maybe put it in the ad: Successful candidate will not be allowed to choose their own vacation days, but will be taken only when boss is off too. Don’t event think of taking sick leave.


    2. SL #2*

      Anyone reminded of the boss who wouldn’t let their employee take a day off for their college graduation?

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Yep. Some people suck. This annual trip was included as part of the employee’s job benefits, and should have been regarded as highly important. It’s not as if it came as a surprise, since she takes the same week off every year and presumably has managed it well in the past. The boss sounds like an a**hole.

        1. An anonymous vent*

          Yeah she worked here for 6 years and took the same week off every year. It was part of her offer because she was very upfront about the reasons for the trip. She would have happily worked any other time including weekends and other holidays (if the office was open then) and never cared about when her other vacation and time off days were. It was literally never an issue before this.

          I knew the executive was horrible but now I see just how much. He’s upset because he mixed up the printer and the fax machine and no one told him (because he didn’t ask anyone). 5:00 can’t come fast enough.

          1. Jean*

            It would be grimly amusing to watch him make these mistakes if he were able to suffer quietly. Alas, he sounds like the type to throw a very loud tantrum when his Very Important Information keeps appearing in the printer tray down the hall instead landing in the fax output tray in Iowa (or Singapore or Oslo or wherever).

          2. Observer*

            I’m sorry, but I just have to laugh at the scene.

            What goes round comes round. And, if he really depends so heavily on an AA, it will probably happen sooner than later. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you are around.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Oh good reminder. Ugh.
        sorry – anonymous vent – and good thoughts go to ex-admin assistant…may she find a new job soon with a better, more compassionate boss

    3. EA*

      That’s absurd.

      There are a few terrible bosses here who just run through assistants. I always wonder when enough will be enough and someone will talk to them about being less insufferable. Probably never but I can hope. It is just hard being introduced to someone new knowing they wont last long.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        My brother just started reporting to someone who has run off 10 assistants in under a year. He’s making more money, but the guy is horrifying to work for (i.e. no regard for the fact that his employees can’t just shift their hours to accommodate his every immediate need, because the powers that be have set limits on hours, etc)

        1. EA*

          I actually think one of the ways to tell who a person is, is how they treat their assistant. It is sort of like how they treat the waitstaff.

          1. Pineapple Incident*

            EXACTLY. People who are rude to those providing them a service are not to be trusted.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think we are looking at, minimally, a runner up for AAM boss of the year. “Boss tells employee she cannot go to once a year event that helps her take care of her sick kid because HE doesn’t want to be alone in the office.” Boss dude has more than one problem going on if he can’t function on his own.

        I hope the employee finds a new and better job very soon.

  32. Fabulous*

    After all the hoopla of applying for targeted jobs for the past nearly 2 years, I’m nearly employed!! Been working a temp job (not anything NEAR what I got my Master’s in) but the person I’ve been covering for is coming back next week and they’re in talks to keep me on. I’ve been moved to a permanent desk, gave my salary requirements, and my supervisor is working on what she wants me to keep doing once this person returns. I could have benefits by this time next week!! Haven’t seen ANY benefits in three years. I’M SO CLOSE.

  33. Manders*

    I’m having a bout of anxiety/possible imposter syndrome about the amount of time I spend not actively producing things at work. I’ve gotten praise for the amount of work I get done regularly, and I’ve pitched and successfully completed several projects that my bosses seem pleased with, but I still feel like I’m not doing enough.

    Has anyone else felt this way? How did you deal with it? I’ve always been a speedy worker and I worry that I’ll look lazy for reading non-work-related websites even though I’m getting a lot done.

    1. UnCivilServant*

      I have a similar circumstance. The stuff I do well I get done blazingly quickly, and I worry I’m looking like a slacker when I’m writing a comment on the internet (like this one) despite being well ahead of schedule. Conversely I find it gets really bad when I’m trying to work on something where I have little existing knowledge and have to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and I start to worry about the repercussions from being ignorant about a major item that got dropped on my desk.

      The key is to pay attention to expecations (and sometimes to manage them proactively when the out of context problem arrives). So long as you meet or exceed them, the employer is going to be happy with your work.

    2. GOG11*

      I tend to feel this way a lot when I have down time. If you aren’t doing so already, you could let your boss know that you’re all caught up and see if they have anything in the pipeline or a coworker who you could help. During our slow period, I take nearly all my vacation time and that helps, too. Another thing that’s been helpful is realizing that not working to capacity all the time allows me more flexibility or gives me wiggle room in my schedule to respond to unanticipated/urgent requests.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I have a similar situation, and I counter it by spending my “free” time at work learning more about work-related stuff… not directly related to the actual work that gets done, but stuff that’s tangentially related, and it usually pays off in the long run (i.e., benefits my org). I also personally benefit by learning stuff that may be helpful to me personally and/or future orgs I work for.

    4. CM*

      I’ve read statistics saying that people are productive at work about 50-60% of the time. I forget the number, but the message was that most people do spend a significant amount of time not working while they’re at work. If everybody is happy with you, don’t beat yourself up over it. I used to worry about that too, and now I see unproductive times and procrastination as part of my process, the downtime that enables me to focus when I need it.

      1. Gina the Conqueror*

        now I see unproductive times and procrastination as part of my process, the downtime that enables me to focus when I need it.

        Oh my goodness, thank you for saying this! Never realized that those times are something I need–I’ve just been feeling guilty about them, even though I recognize (and have been told) that I’m a high performer. This has just given me an entirely new perspective…

    5. Anxious!*

      Damn, I feel like I could have written this.
      What’s worked for me is keeping a specific list of praise I get about my work. When I feel anxious, I take a look at this list and remember that people are happy with what I’m producing, even if I’m not on the go 100% of the time.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I felt that way when I started my current job. But I realized that what matters is how I perform those job tasks. Like you, I am really good at what I do. The fact that I don’t always have something to do is irrelevant. Anyway, I spend my down-time on self-development, so I’m not ashamed of not being busy 100% of the time.

    7. themmases*

      I have been feeling that way lately. Honestly, even though I have a ton to do I also somehow am able to get by with a ton of time doing not very much… And am still getting praised for my work.

      Just try to let it go. Maybe what you have going on right now is easy for fast *for you* and there’s no reason to feel guilty about that. Make sure your little, easy to forget tasks truly are done, throw in some work-related browsing, and don’t be too obvious about being on Facebook or whatever until things pick up. Eventually you’ll be back to a time when the work or workload is challenging you.

    8. em2mb*

      I’m with you, Manders. I hate having nothing to “show” for my day.

      But I’ve started telling myself that a lot of the little, seemingly off-task things I do on slow days – reading this website is one example, interacting with folks in the industry is another – actually pay dividends down the line, whether it’s making me a better coworker, or a better manager, or more connected with the folks we serve in my line of work.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes we are just our own worst critics.

      Instead of losing time in anxiety, why not use some time thinking about how to beef up your game? This gets harder the longer you have been at a job. Have you tried asking for something to do with your downtime? Can you create a special project, get permission for it and use your downtime to do that project? Maybe your solution is to just tell the boss that you read sites like AAM in your downtime to broaden your general knowledge about work topics. Once it’s out in the open, you don’t need to worry about it anymore.

  34. question about turning down job offers*

    So, I received two job offers this week. Job 1 called on Thurs and I asked to have the weekend to think it over. Job 2 called me this morning and I asked for a couple days to think it over.

    Depending on who I turn down, is it okay to say it’s because I received a better offer elsewhere? I like both jobs, but Job 1 offered a better salary and benefits and the commute is easier. I probably would have taken Job 2 if I didn’t get accepted to Job 1. I’ve never had to turn down a job offer before, so I’m not really sure what I should or shouldn’t say.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Just be polite and say you decided to go with another opportunity. If they ask, you can say that the positions were equal, but Job 1 offered you better compensation and an easier commute. If you’re feeling guilty– which you SHOULDN’T, but I get it– you can focus on the commute. But if they ask, I do think you should bring up the salary, since that might be something they encounter again with the next applicant.

      Oh, and congratulations!

      1. question about turning down job offers*

        Thanks! I have a feeling they won’t be surprised about the commute if I mention it, because Job 2 is located in an area of my city that’s pretty hard to get to on public transportation.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      First, congratulations on getting two good offers! Second, don’t overthink it. You can tell the job you’re turning down that you decided to take your job search in another direction, or you can say you received two offers and after weighing them both very carefully, you think the other offer is a better fit for you at this time. They may have a follow-up question or two, and you can decide if you feel comfortable answering them or not.

      1. question about turning down job offers*

        Thanks! This is exactly how I was looking to phrase it, so I’m going to get your comment in mind when I call the second job on Monday.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I would avoid the words “better offer,” but you can definitely say you decided to take another job instead and then profusely thank them for offering the position (no need to burn any bridges).

    4. chickabiddy*

      I agree that you don’t have to give a reason, but if you would feel better doing so, focus on the commute rather than the compensation. They may try to bargain over salary, but they can’t pick up the office and move it closer.

  35. Amadeo*

    Maybe not really looking for answers unless someone’s got a brilliant one, possibly just commiseration.

    There’s a gentleman down the hall who, when’s here, likes to whistle. It’s right up there with humming and open mouthed chewing on my ‘drives me to irrational irritation’ scale, though I’m less likely to either explode or flee the room as I am with the chewing. Seems like it’d be overkill to poke my head in his office and ask him to knock it off because I don’t know him and no one else has either (and I’ve only been here a couple of months).

    I’m hoping that when my permanent desk comes in and I move around a wall into an office with my soon-to-be office roommate that I won’t be able to hear it as well. Headphones help, but not entirely. Do any of you guys have an office hummer or whistler that drives you crazy some days?

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      I could not stand the office whistler.

      It was easier for me, as I’d worked there much longer than him. I checked that it also irritated a few other coworkers. It did. So then every time he started after that, either I would knock and say, “Hey, could you stop whistling?” or someone else would.

      I stressed for ages about a long explanation that my headphones couldn’t bock out the noise blah blah, but untimely, he’s the one with the behavior that is being inflicted on others.

      This may not work for you if he’s been there longer. Maybe your other coworkers don’t mind.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I hate most whistling! Mainly because so few people are any good at it. Now I live with a whistler, but he can actually whistle real, recognizable tunes in a non-shrill manner and imitate bird calls. Most whistling is just terrible, though, so I sympathize…

        1. Aurion*

          Tangent: is whistling tunes really that rare?

          Now I’m wondering if I just live around/interact with exceptionally good whistlers, because everyone I know who can whistle (my father, coworkers, etc.) can whistle tunes–or at least, cohesively carry the tune for a few bars. I can whistle entire songs if you let me (but I don’t do it at work, because my coworkers would rightfully want to kill me).

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I think whistling tunes well with a rich tone is pretty rare. (Most people aren’t that great of singers either, but mediocre singing isn’t as annoying as mediocre whistling. And I’m a really terrible singer and whistler, as in I can sometimes hit the right note or make a whistling noise, often by accident.)

    2. fposte*

      I think a fan might be really good to drown out a whistler, since it’s pretty high-frequency. Have you tried that?

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        Try this. My ears are such that whistling causes actual physical pain. People who whistle do so unconsciously, and you can’t expect them to stop for you because they just don’t realize they’re doing it. My live-in bf had to be retrained not to whistle every time he went out of town on business. They just can’t help themselves, so you have to fend for yourself. A fan helps.

    3. Mimmy*

      Definitely commiserating – not going on currently, but oh em gee, those same noises put me into BEC mode very quickly!

    4. Sadsack*

      There’s a person in another department across the hall from me who occasionally does a whistle that sounds like some kind of like bird call, maybe an owl or mourning dove. It isn’t real loud, but is actually kind of low and not very long. When I hear it, I become irrationally angry and would like to go over and smack him.

        1. Sadsack*

          Wow. I wonder, too. I haven’t paid enough attention to know if the sound is exactly the same every time. Whatever it is, I hate it!

          1. fposte*

            I think if it’s a text alert, you could poke your head in and ask for the volume to be lowered. That’s an adjustable machine noise, not a human noise.

    5. K130*

      Commiserating: we have one person, who happens to walk around a lot, who whistles, hums, sings along with his headphones, UGH!

    6. EddieSherbert*

      Can you (politely) close his door?

      I know that can be awkward but a nice smile and friendly “is it okay if I close your door? The whistling is a little distracting today, but I don’t want to ruin you disturb you!” might go a long way.

    7. Hashers*

      Whistling never used to bother me until I started my previous job which had a semi open floor plan. There were walls but they didn’t actually reach the the ceiling so there was no sound barrier. My dept shared the first floor with the campus police department and there was one officer who would whistle loudly literally all day every day that he was on duty. He would whistle Christmas music, TV show themes, anything you can think of for seven hours a day and he wouldn’t stop even after receiving complaints. Now I’m super sensitive to whistling and it irritates the crap out of me.

      1. Amadeo*

        I’m surprised he wasn’t ganged up on and shoved into a closet if he actually had complaints and wouldn’t knock it off.

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      Nobody in my office does that, thank goodness. But one of my coworkers is REALLY bad at phone calls– he’s awkward and it’s cringeworthy sometimes. I hate when he makes phone calls, I really really do. He desperately needs coaching, but it’s not my place. His supervisor is probably aware of it, though.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      “Excuse me, I don’t know if you realize but the acoustics in this place are weird. Your whistling carries and it sounds really loud. If everyone whistled or hummed here, no one would be able to concentrate. Can you refrain from whistling?”

      If you are good at humor there is a joke in here some where about “whistling while you work”. But I can’t find it right now.

  36. Embarrassed*

    How can I excuse myself to go to the bathroom with my male boss???

    Yesterday was a horrific day… my period was late and arrived with a vengeance. It was about 3pm and my magical period poop was ready to ruin my day, it was so bad that I kept on shuffling in my seat and all I could do was think how I could make it until 5pm. We are part of a large building and there is a public washroom right down the hall – but after already using my breaks I had no reason to ask permission to leave the office and rush to the bathroom.

    Using our washroom was not an option – it is a tiny single toilet room where you can hear/smell everything from our desk area. The toilet can also barely flush a piece of toilet paper most days so I wasn’t about to go storming in and plug it. To try and relieve the pressure I did slip in to remove my menstrual cup and replace it with a tampon, and then frantically had to find a way to re-flush only once to hide the bloody crime scene I created in the toilet.

    I then returned to my desk and continued to shift about, barely able to focus on the work in front of me. I was genuinely concerned I was going to have an accident in my pants but was still too mortified to reveal to my boss that I wanted to use the public washroom instead of ours – it’d be fairly obvious what I was going to be doing and he is the type that would bring it up and joke about it.

    I made it to 5pm and then had to shamefully exit the public washroom and run before anyone realized it was me who plugged one of the toilets!

    I don’t know if there was a simple way I could’ve brought it up to my boss that I needed to use the other washroom (would’ve worked if he had been using ours at the time) or if there was a good cover up I could’ve used as to why I needed to suddenly exit the office and return 5 minutes later… smokers could’ve easily covered this up.

    If it were just me and my female supervisor I would’ve had no problem giving her a look and explaining that I needed the other washroom… but she had left early. Even if she’d been there I could’ve discreetly asked her and she would’ve covered and said she asked me to deliver an envelope to another office. But with him, I don’t know how I can possibly have a conversation like that.

    I know ‘everyone poops’ but males are exempt from the hormonal changes that cause unpleasant special menstrual poops!

    1. NarrowDoorways*

      Why in the world do you need to ask permission to go to the restroom? Is he required to cover you? As in, your position requires someone always being on hand?

      Why can’t you just say, “Excuse me,” and leave? Though honestly most adults just…go.

      When I supervised last year, we hired someone right out of high school who’d always stop me to tell me she was going to the restroom. My response was literally always something like, “Ok… I’m not sure why you’re telling me. You can just go…” TMI.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        That is so annoying!

        One of my friends has a crazy manager who times their bathroom breaks. Pretty sure she has to ask for permission to use the restroom too. She’s looking for another job.

    2. What's Going On? (Hey Hey Hey)*

      You just need to suck it up, be matter of fact, and ask your boss to use the other restroom. I know it’s embarrassing, and it sounds like he might be a bit immature if you think he’d joke about it, but that’s on him, not on you. If you refuse to let him get a rise out of you or act like it’s embarrassing, I suspect most people would back off. And beside, think how much more embarrassing it would be if you’d made a mess, right?

      1. 2 Cents*

        And if he starts making fun of you (immature, much? what a jerk), then either shut it down with: “My bathroom habits are not up for discussion” or march down to HR.* And if he’s married to a woman or has daughters, that’s another way to be like “Just going through what half the population does. Don’t really see how it’s funny.”

        *I assume.

    3. Murphy*

      Is your office so strict that you have to ask permission to get up? I would say just get up and go. Unless you’re gone for a really long time, or you’re doing it a lot, I don’t know why there would be an issue. If you really need a reason, can you say that you’re stretching your legs?

      1. Sadsack*

        Yeah, I don’t understand either. I would just go and if he asks if there is something wrong with the nearby bathroom, just say no, and if he directly asks why you had to go to the other room, just say personal reasons. If he has a bran in his head, I think he’ll drop it at that point.

        1. misspiggy*

          Or even say yes, that bathroom is not appropriate for my needs. Anyone asking a question like that would either be sincerely concerned about the in-office toilet or a jerk, so either way give them a straight answer.

    4. zora.dee*

      My head is exploding over the idea that you have to ask permission to go to the restroom. Unless it’s about asking someone to cover the phones or something while you are out. But even in that case, you should only need to say “I have to step out to the restroom, I’ll be right back” and leave. If they ask questions or try to argue, THAT IS RIDICULOUS. These things are not a matter of debate, it’s something people need to do is go to the bathroom.

      And if he does have any kind of reaction, then I second this from 2 cents:
      “My bathroom habits are not up for discussion” or march down to HR.

      HR, or whoever is his supervisor/head of the company, etc. It is completely inappropriate to make fun of someone’s bathroom needs or tell them they aren’t allowed to go.

    5. Eddit Turr*

      I also think it’s strange that you have to specifically ask to use the restroom. Assuming that it really is necessary to explain why you’re getting up and walking out, may I suggest:

      – I need to get something from my car
      – I’m going to go grab a coffee
      – I need to stretch my legs
      – I’ll be right back

    6. The IT Manager*

      I think the problem is that the LW felt the need to use the bathroom OUTSIDE of the office for her “magical period poop” so she would have to explain why she left the office rather than use the restroom inside the office

      OTOH LW, you’re having A LOT of shame and embarrassment related to bodily functions and you need to work on getting over that. Be matter of fact: “I’m going to step out and use the public restroom.” And if he makes a jokes, just convey through a look or statement that you don’t want to discuss your bathroom habits.

      1. chickabiddy*

        I get that, but it is still inappropriate for the boss to question why she prefers one bathroom over another. If he does ask, I would look straight at him and say “Do you really want to know? Because I will tell you exactly why.”

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Can you talk to your female boss and ask her to talk to him? I would have no problem doing this for anyone- a cohort or subordinate.

      Can you tell him that you are going to start using the public bathroom all the time because you prefer it over the bathroom you have near you?

      I suspect that the real problem is his jokes. I am not sure what kind of jokes you expect but here’s some different answers you might be able to use:

      “Oh, boss, let’s not go there, okay?”

      “Boss, I like working for you but, please, let’s not make jokes about my bathroom habits. It’s a little personal, don’t you think?”

      “Boss, jokes about me and the bathroom are a little too much. Please stop.”

      “Boss, I asked you not to make personal jokes about my bathroom habits. I really meant that.”

      “Boss, I asked you not to make jokes about my bathroom trips. Now I am asking again. Please do not make jokes about my bathroom trips.”

      If this does not fit with what you expect him to say, toss us a couple things you’d expect to hear and we will help you come up with things to say to stop him.

  37. Raine*

    Quick Question

    I’m working an entry level RA job at a local business. When I applied to the position it was listed as full time permanent. However when I was offered the job the recruiter told me that the position had been changed to a six month contract position and asked me if I was still interested in accepting it. I said yes since if nothing else it would be good on a resume and a steady paycheck which I needed.

    Shortly after I was hired my manager told me the job was temp to perm, so after my six month contract was over the company would hire me on as a permanent full time employee. The was about three months ago but recently one of my coworkers, not a manager but still someone above me in the chain of command, has been hinting very indirectly that I shouldn’t get my hopes up about that. My performance has been good, I haven’t made any major errors, and I recently had someone I collaborated on a project with write my manager an effusive letter of praise telling her I had done an exceptional job. By all accounts I have done nothing to jeopardize this position but now I’m paranoid something has changed. My manager hasn’t said anything one way or the other about this.

    How do I ask if the plan has changed without coming across as insecure? She said I was going to be hired, and she hasn’t told me otherwise, and I feel like that should be enough. But at the same time now I’m really stressed about this.

    1. LadyKelvin*

      You could approach the conversation with your boss with the framing as “Hey, I was just wondering what you thought the chances of my position becoming permanent would be. As there are only 3 months left in my contract I’d like to have an idea of whether there was any possibility of me staying longer or if I should start applying to jobs for when I’m done.” But really you should already be looking around for new jobs since you only have 3 months guaranteed.

    2. fposte*

      That was three months ago, things change, and it never hurts to ask if you’re doing what you need to be doing. “I just wanted to check with you on the job’s conversion to permanent in three months–is that still in the plans, and is there anything I should work on to make sure I’m eligible for the transition?”

  38. What's Going On? (Hey Hey Hey)*

    I work for a company that provides contract employees to do remote computer work for other companies. We work out of a central office for clients all over the country. When I started about a year ago, each project had a manager to coordinate with the client, oversee time sheets, and so on. The managers were also contract employees but were clearly separated from the rest of us.

    In the last few months, however, I’m increasingly seeing projects assigned to remote managers who assign one or more employees to be their “point person” on the project. In reality, this means the employee is in charge of client communication, time sheets, and so on, since the remote people might be managing a dozen projects and have no idea what’s actually going on in any of them.

    This situation already made me pretty uncomfortable, but then this morning it stepped up a notch: I’m currently the unofficial assistant-manager for a project under another “employee-manager”. We are hourly and subject to overtime at 48 hours/week. One of our employees always hits this early Friday morning and is gone by 9 or 9:30. This morning, however, he said “he was a little behind” so he was working off the clock for a full half an hour.

    I thought the employee-manager was going to tell him to go home, but instead he laughed and said he was considering coming in this weekend to work for free. Earlier this week, he was assigned to oversee a second project, with a tight deadline coming up, and I know he’s going to hit 48 hours today but some of his team is coming in over the weekend. Obviously, overtime has not been approved. I told him (in private) that I was very uncomfortable with this situation, but he seemed to just shrug and laugh it off, like “what are you gonna do?”

    To make things worse, one of the other employees heard this and said “so this is what it takes to be a manager, huh?” I like this group of people but I’m so deeply uncomfortable with the situation I don’t know what to do. I could easily find somewhere else to do similar work (and almost certainly for more money), but frankly it’s a stopgap while I interview for permanent employment and I’m not sure I want to mix things up. Plus it’s nice to have management experience for my resume. Our “real” management is constantly traveling and hasn’t been onsite all week. What should I do?

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      Where are you guys and why do you only hit overtime at 48 hours a week??? That’s a very high threshold that depending on which country/locality you’re in may not be at all legal. Also, if you’re all hourly NO ONE should be working off the clock- that’s illegal no matter where you are. Is there a way to email your “real” management about your concerns with this? You really should do it soon, because things like this have an unfortunate way of becoming “accepted practice” way quicker than they should despite being totally despicable. If you can’t contact your manager, you should either go higher above them about the issues with this workflow arrangement or complain to your state/national/whatever locality applies labor board that your company is advocating for people to work off the clock.

      1. What's Going On? (Hey Hey Hey)*

        Believe me, I’m not thrilled with the 48 hours thing, but I’ve done a significant amount of research (including discussing it with a couple of attorney family members) and my company does appear to be legally set up in such that federal overtime law does not apply. 48 hours is state law, which, yes, is quite stingy.

        I think I do need to talk to someone higher up about this, but I’m mainly worried about getting my coworker/manager in trouble for this. That said, I’m also worried that part of the reason he’s been given so much responsibility is that he doesn’t stand up for himself or rock the boat and that I’ll be shooting myself in the foot if I try and speak up.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          Sorry I’m so late with a response to this, but if you are worried about the finger pointing back at you there is usually an anonymous comment/complaint process at the labor board.

  39. Master Bean Counter*

    How do you do self evaluation when you’ve been on the short a short time and you’ve received no feed back at all yet? No goals have been set, not much direction has been given. How do you rate yourself? Especially when you know there is a definite mismatch in your work style and your boss’s work style.


    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think you just give your best guess and keep it short. I would assume this is just a formality that’s in place for everyone, so your boss (if she is reasonable) should expect it to be not too comprehensive, given your short time there so far.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Perhaps can you still evaluate how well you’ve learned/picked up processes/procedures at new job? (each place has its own quirks, etc.)

      Even if you have no set goals/directions, are there projects you are working on? Can you discuss how they are going, your ongoing input/accomplishments with that ongoing project? [Still working on Big Project, but have identified we need to do A, B, C, D, and E, and I have a good start on A and B?]

      Do you interact with customers/clients? Can you discuss good relations/establishing a rapport with them? Or with internal colleagues?

      Taking on extra learning/self-training, with no direction as of yet? Since I haven’t had much direction, but my job will focus on X, Y, and Z, I’ve been reading/doing these online tutorials/practice writing press releases because they align with my main job in ways X and Z…

  40. Performance Management*

    Hello All! I am attempting to put together a more effective performance management system in place than the one we are currently using. We are a small-ish (25 people) manufacturing type company, so most of our supervisors’ and managers time and attention is focused on getting product out the door, so they don’t necessarily see the value of completing performance reviews in a timely and effective manner (I see a lot of one sentence responses). Right now, each job duty is evaluated on a scale of 1-7. It seems to be cumbersome and not resulting in a whole lot of long term change and goal setting is lacking. I’ve been doing some research online, and haven’t found anything concrete that looks like it would work. If anyone has a system they are using that they feel is working well, I would love to hear about it! The more creative the better.

    1. Karo*

      I was reading a blog where someone (who I otherwise respect) was railing against it because now, since they can’t ask how much the person makes, they have to propose a salary range and ask if it’ll work! How dare they!

      Definitely dropped my respect level for him down a few notches.

    2. Rebecca*

      I’m so glad you mentioned this! I searched for “Massachusetts” before posting the same question :) I read about it on EHRL this morning. I wish it would go into effect more quickly. January 2018 is a long time off!

      I just applied to a job online a few weeks ago (waiting impatiently!!) and this was a required field…starting and ending wages. On the flip side, the employer gave zero indication of what the job pays, so I could be wasting my time, and worse, they could look at my wages and say “hey, we can offer her what she’s making now and save a ton of money. Woot!!”

      I really wish employers would have to disclose a wage range of some sort. For instance, I saw a job that looked perfect for me, and thankfully it was in a county office so the wage structure was public. I found out it paid $10.14/hour and health insurance was approximately $400/month employee contribution. Yikes! So glad I knew people who worked in similar jobs so they could tell me what the health insurance rates were!

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      YASSSS! I’m so excited that this is a thing! Now I hope it spreads across the country, though it’s unlikely to make it to my state. :/

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Recruiters often start out conversations with people by asking about their current salary. It’s not illogical–why pursue someone when the salary you’re offering is $10,000 less than the person’s current salary.

      Given some of the letters here with people dealing with recruiters… that doesn’t appear to be a metric that phases some of them in pursuit of a commission.

      Also, wouldn’t someone looking to change jobs be wanting more salary? I mean, seriously, I would bet 99.999% of job seekers are looking for a better wage than the one they are currently making — or benefits that make up the difference.

      Every once and a while I look at job ads not because I’m looking but you never know… and it never ceases to amaze me that the job will say everything they want, except the salary range. So you want 5+ years of experience, a B.A., competence in a half dozen different programs in different mediums but you’re not willing to tell me if this is worth my while to apply to? It’s like if I saw an ad in the paper for a car that came with everything, so I rushed down to the dealer only to find out it was way out of my price range. And sure, there’s always those people who think that the rules don’t apply to them and they’re so awesome that your advertised range will be immediately tossed out when they state their requirements but sheesh… is it really that hard to put down what you expect to pay? Everyone knows that you’ve already figured out the budget you can stay within or you wouldn’t be hiring.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        I love (hate?) the pointlessness of this question, considering my job history. Except for my two most recent jobs, it is currently illegal in this state to pay me as little as I made at my previous jobs (which had legal rates back then, before anyone gasps).

    5. em2mb*

      NPR had what I thought was a good discussion of the law last night on All Things Considered. I thought it sounded real cool even before they started talking about how it could help women who’ve accepted lower pay from being locked into always making less because that first job salary negotiation didn’t go well. So glad to see progress being made!

    6. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      That is so awesome. I wish we had it everywhere. I’m in CA and I was contacted by a recruiter for a job I’m interested in. She asked what I make now and I said the range I’m looking for to move. Then she asked again and I asked how it’s relevant, as I would be switching from a dept with a compensation structure to one without. She got a little flustered, asked a THIRD time, and so finally I told her. Whatever.

      Later on, she asked me what I made at a job I held 15 years ago. Good lord lady, do you want me to present-value that for you?

  41. A Girl Has No Name*

    I have a non-work related question. Where or when can I post it? My question is about a problem I’m having with my condo association but askamanager is the only advice blog I really read.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      There is a non-work related open post on the weekends. You could also try or boards specifically for housing advice.

  42. DevAssist*

    I work for a teapot painting academy enrolling students. Since it is the start of August, we have been swamped by calls and visits from parents. I’m sorry for complaining, but I need a place to vent: why are people blunt in their emails and on the phone?!? I work in a customer service position, and whenever I have to call or email a parent, they respond with one word answers as if I’m supposed to know their every thought and feeling. I don’t mean examples like:

    “Hello, I can see that you have not updated your application for a while. Would you like us to withdraw your application?”

    I’m talking about things like:

    “Hello, Thank you for expressing interest in our teapot program! In order to enroll, we will need X, Y, and X. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you.”
    “Don’t have X”
    “Hello, thank you for your reply! If you do not have X, you can request it or an exemption by doing A, B, C. I’d be happy to assist you over the phone as well, if that would be your preferred communication.”

    Like…??? Okay??? No manners, not asking a question about how to proceed. Just an assumptive attitude that I should figure it out.

    Come on, people! I’m a person. Please be kind.

    1. Megs*

      Ug, that really sucks and drives me bonkers. I’m not sure what these people hope to accomplish, either – don’t they WANT to get into your program?

      1. DevAssist*

        They do! But they think our program is much easier to get into than it is (which is still, honestly, not very hard).

        Parents will also try to circumvent our enrollment process by emailing our CEO directly. If they do that, then the CEO will try to force our process (which can take a week or so) to happen in single day.

        I’m honestly in a catch-all position where everyone is demanding. I’m desperately looking for new work, but the pay is significantly better than most jobs that are hiring (that would make me happier and less inclined to walk off a cliff)

        1. Megs*

          Aw man, your CEO is only encouraging that BS?! That’s absurd. Good luck with the job search (and at least you’re well compensated in the mean time)!

          1. DevAssist*

            Thanks! My current pay isn’t awesome, but it is more than what most opportunities around me are offering.

            Yeah, our CEO is a very kind guy, but is kind of oblivious to how demanding some of our work can be.

            I really do love some of my coworkers; it’s just the politics of education, the hierarchy of staff, and the entitlement of parents is pretty morale-crushing.

            1. Library Director*

              The CEO may be kind, but it’s not really nice to employees or those willing to go through the process to try and push someone through. I can feel your pain. I just sent an document about a program. The email said, ‘All information is in the document.’ Someone emailed back asking, “When is the program?” Arghhhh! I went back and checked. Yes, all the info was there.

    2. CM*

      That’s obnoxious, and the answer is probably that they can get away with it and communicating with you is low on their priority list. Which doesn’t help your frustration.

      Do you have any power in this situation? Is it your job to be as helpful and accommodating as possible to the parents, or would it be possible for you to say in response to “Don’t have X,” “We will not be able to enroll your child without X. Please contact me if you need assistance.” Or in response to “Can’t,” “Since you are not able to meet the enrollment requirements, I will withdraw your application. Thanks for your interest in the Academy.”

      If not… look at it as an opportunity for character-building?

      1. Dot Warner*

        I like this suggestion. Be helpful and kind, but enforce the rules. For example:

        “Hello, I can see that you have not updated your application for a while. Would you like us to withdraw your application?”
        “OK, I will keep your application on file. Please note that the next session starts on [date] and if your application is not complete by [date], we will not be able to enroll you that session.”

        You could also add something about having limited space in the session and places are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so if they want to be sure they have a space it would be prudent to finish their application before the deadline.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed, and the students I work with are the WORST. I got an email recently: “Hello I would like to know the next steps for the scholarship qualification”

      What scholarship? What are you talking about? UGHHHHHH.

      Students are not being taught email etiquette anymore. They treat it like texting and it drives me bonkers.

      1. Jennifer*

        That’s a lot more coherent than I have gotten in e-mails. And usually it’s from people with like, advanced science degrees.

    4. Jennifer*

      You’re doing customer service–that means you’re not a person.

      Don’t take it personally if someone can’t put in extra words to make it sound friendlier. Some people just aren’t good at written communications.

    5. higheredrefugee*

      I recently left highered (huh, hence the screen name) and since then I run a website where users can use a LiveChat feature when they can’t find the information they need on our website. I am amazed at how often I asked on that if I am a “real person.” I wonder if that mentality of “I’m only talking to a computer” is leaking over to phone/in-person? Or are people just so accustomed to doing everything they want, how they want, in the time period they want, they actually get results with one-word obstinancy?

      Sorry your CEO is like that – sadly, no one in education seems to have any management or org theory skills…. My best boss in those years was an accountant before becoming a lawyer for goodness sake! Good luck!

  43. gorgon*

    I just got my first job as a legal assistant, making $15/hour. I have admin work experience but none in law, so this wage is about what I expected to be making in my first legal job.

    When I was still searching, I was astonished by how many legal assistant jobs required a bachelors degree, 2-3 years of relevant legal experience, and a paralegal degree/certificate, yet only offered $12/hour. That’s what you pay someone with zero experience! That’s not the wage of someone with relevant experience AND multiple degrees. I don’t know what the hell these law firms are thinking, and I’m wary of ever applying for a job at these places in the future, even if I do see a job offering an acceptable wage.

    I’ve been job-searching on-and-off for two years, and I see the same firms posting the same $12/hour jobs every few months. These aren’t large firms, so I don’t think they are hiring for multiple positions. I think they just struggle to keep anyone with that much experience in such a low-paying job. If I give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe the reason the positions are always open is because they keep promoting people. But I kind of doubt it. I think they are trying to get experience without paying for experience.

    I just find the whole thing really frustrating. Legal assistants and paralegals are so integral to a law firm that it’s disheartening to see their years of work experience and education devalued so much. Not at every firm of course, but enough.

    1. Megs*

      You’re absolutely right that good legal assistants and paralegals are absolutely vital to a law practice, and I suspect you’re right, too, that these firms trying to get the cheapest possible option are probably not managing to retain people, or are getting people so incompetent they get fired. I don’t know why you would mess around with that kind of thing – having a legal assistant or paralegal screw something up can lead to sanctions or professional discipline as easy as anything else.

    2. K130*

      I’m a career admin and I find this sort of thing in any admin related job. I think it relates to so many people seeing administrative assistant as a stepping stone, i.e. “working your way up from the mail room”. I’ve worked plenty of places where they have previously had a passable clerical person and are very surprised by what a good admin can get done.

    3. MsMaryMary*

      IANAL, or a paralegal, or a legal assistant, but given that there are a lot fewer legal jobs of any kind these days, I think it’s a supply and demand thing. There are inexperienced lawyers willing to do paralegal work, paralegals who take admin roles, and fewer jobs for everyone.

    4. Slippy*

      The legal field is still super-saturated and anything is better than nothing, especially for new entrants. My guess is they have a steady stream of people that work there just long enough to get a better job elsewhere and that doesn’t bother the company one bit as long as the people are cheap; sort of like the Walmart of the legal fields.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      I once saw a law firm looking for an experienced (!) legal assistant, in Manhattan, in NYC, for $6.00 an hour. Yes, you read that correctly. This was before the federal min wage went up to $7.25. They would not budge; the ad stated that was the set in stone rate. I showed it to my best friend who was a legal assistant and she was insulted.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It would have been interesting to see how many applicants they got and the quality of the applicant.

    6. higheredrefugee*

      As an attorney that has worked across the country, this will vary widely depending on location. Supply and demand/loyalty expectations matter a lot to attorneys. If they’ve had a bad run of folks leaving as soon as they get good, they’ll keep it low. Also, for the smaller private practices, many of the lawyers are willing to foot the bill for a much more significant portion of your health insurance than other similar small employers, which you need to factor into making $15/hour.

      That said, once you get going, if you can truly quantify your worth, and how much time/energy/billable you save your attorneys, there can be more money to be made for reasonable attorneys. I know paralegals/legal assistants that make more than the entry-level attorneys at mid-size firms because they’ve built their skills and continue to do so, and take so much of the running of the business off the attorneys’ hands (as in stuff the attorney can’t bill a client for directly).

  44. UrbanGardener*

    I’m going through a really odd time at work right now. My boss could have had her own entry on this site. She was a paranoid, micromanaging control freak who did not trust us to do our jobs. Insisted on being copied on all emails, rewriting everything we wrote, and then complained she didn’t get paid nearly enough for the amount of work she did. She played favorites and was really obvious about it.

    She once told me she was too old to change who she was, so I was required to change who I was so we could work together more successfully. She didn’t believe there should be no surprises on performance reviews – she always had to throw in at least 2 to throw you off your game and have something to mark down against you. If you did something she didn’t like 6 months ago, she wouldn’t tell you. She’d hold onto it until review time.

    Luckily I realize pretty soon after starting my job that she was completely unhinged and would never be happy with me, so I stopped caring about her opinion, which also drove her crazy. She wanted you to fall all over yourself to try and please her (not that you’d ever be successful) and I’m smart enough to realize that.

    She died recently.

    So, while I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even her, I’m feeling relieved I don’t have to work for her anymore. And either potential colleague who would take over is a vast improvement – they all like me and think I do a great job, and aren’t unhinged.

    However, my one colleague, who was the boss’ favorite, is melting down. I know her experience with my boss was vastly different from mine, and I’m trying to be kind. But she did something I think she could be fired for.

    A number of years ago, (before I started working here) there was a person who thought they should be made head of the department (they had been here nearly 25 years), but my boss was instead. And when my boss felt challenges to her authority, she had to grind that person into the dust. So she started nit-picking everything this other person did until she had enough to get them fired. The other person lawyered up, arguing they were unjustly fired, and got severance and to remain on the generous company insurance plan.

    My colleague confesses to me that my boss asked her to throw away all personnel files related to this person. And my colleague did. I do not know what the hell she was thinking, other than trying to protect my boss’ reputation, and my boss trying to keep control of everything even after death. But that’s company property! It’s not OK to throw them out, right?

    My colleague forgot that I have a key to the shredder bin. So I went dumpster diving for them (they don’t actually get shredded until they get to the truck, so it’s not like I had to tape them together spy movie style). I luckily found them, because it had been a few weeks since the shredder guy showed up.

    So I looked at them just to confirm what was relevant and not. Performance reviews (which HR would have a copy of) and notes mostly. But also files for people who are still working here. I hid them in my desk. If you don’t want people to see you being awful to others, stop being awful, is my theory.

    I haven’t told any of my colleagues yet. I’m going to tell the one I trust the most when he gets back from vacation. I don’t want her to get fired, we need her for certain projects, and I did fix the immediate problem, but she is incapable of being rational where our boss is concerned right now. She has talked about leaving because she wouldn’t find either of the new potential bosses “inspiring”, so if she does I will give the files to whoever the new boss is.

    1. J.B.*

      What do you plan to do with this information? Let this one go. If the person needs to be fired for actions going forward she will show it. Otherwise what’s done is done.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is why it’s so important to get out of a toxic environment. The behaviors just get further and further away from professional/normal behaviors.

        At some point it stops being about the toxic employee and shifts to being about a problem that is systemic through out the company. Nasty boss went unchecked for years. Why. Well, in part because upper management was asleep at the switch.

    2. Muriel Heslop*


      I work in education, and I would be required by law to immediately report something like this. (Student files, especially special education ones, are subject to a lot of legal restriction.) So that colors my advice which is: report it immediately. Unless your colleague comes back Monday. I really think the longer you hold on to the files, the worse it seems. And did you really fix the immediate problem? Your co-worker destroyed files (theoretically) and is still working there.

      Good luck! Keep us posted on how this plays out.

    3. Ella*

      I wouldn’t hide files in your desk, nor would I give them to a new hire. If you did this to me, and I was your new boss, I would think you were involved in some sort of weird drama, and it would negatively impact my perception of you, right off the bat. I would either mention to your colleague that threw them away that you don’t think it’s OK to throw those files away, so you’ve replaced them, but if she removes them again, you’ll tell HR, or I’d go to HR directly. Or — third option– just let it go. Why do old personnel files from before you started working there matter, other than to negatively color people’s impression of your boss or coworker?

      1. UrbanGardener*

        Well, the drama already happened. Everyone else in the department lived through it, and knows about it. Honestly, given the way she acted about her image and perception, I’m sure this was more about preventing her new boss (just started managing her in the last year) from seeing anything about it if new boss wanted to go through her files for some reason, or trying to wipe all memories about former colleague out of the company memory. I don’t want to dox myself so I won’t go more into what, but she was effectively trying to wipe all memories of former colleague for years. And this is company property, and I don’t think it should be discarded. My plan was actually to slip the files back into the file drawer, not hand them to the new boss.

        1. UrbanGardener*

          Sorry, in case i wasn’t clear, new boss would be promoted from within, so it would be someone who already knows about everything and can make their own decision whether to keep or toss old files.

        2. Amtelope*

          Why does it matter whether your boss has this file of information about someone who left the company years ago? How do you think this information would benefit your boss?

        3. Menacia*

          I am missing how you think it will help to put those files back if they are full of the rantings of an unstable, controlling person? Why give new boss any information to sway them from forming their own opinions of those who work for them? I think this is something you don’t want to be involved in, get rid of the files before anyone knows you have them.

    4. Amtelope*

      Why is any of this your problem? Shredding the files is weird, but it sounds like the person they refer to already has a legal settlement with the company. They’re not pursuing a lawsuit that they might need these files for. And your old boss is dead, so there’s no question of these files being relevant to whether she’s promoted or rehired at your company.

      You’ve put yourself in an uncomfortable situation now that you have these files — you can’t stick them back in the shredder without making yourself responsible for destroying them, which you could get in trouble for. In your place, I’d probably hand them back to your colleague, tell her that you don’t think these should be shredded, and then try not to care what she does with the files after that. Unless maintaining these files is your job, it’s not worth getting involved in this.

      1. UrbanGardener*

        My colleague made it into my problem by telling me what she did. Now, if I’d left them in the shredder, I’d be stuck in the position of lying if anyone ever asks me if I know why there no files on this person. Because I do know why there are no files.

        this is about my boss trying to still exert control over the job from her grave. And this is a decision the new manager should get to make, in my opinion.

        1. Amtelope*

          Well, if your coworker had shredded the files, and you’d been asked why there were no files, you’d say “Coworker shredded them.” And then she’d get to explain that decision. I don’t think anyone would have said “why didn’t you rummage through the shredder to try to get the files back?”

          The files are not symbols of whether your dead boss wins or loses her battle to control your office from beyond the grave. They’re just files on an employee who hasn’t worked there for years, and frankly it doesn’t sound like anyone’s likely to ever need to look at them again, whether they’re shredded or not. I’d either put them back where they were or hand them back to Coworker and try to emotionally disengage from their fate. This isn’t worth the amount of emotional energy you’re putting into it.

    5. Mustache Cat*


      This is a lot of drama. Coming from all sides, as I see it.

      I’m not sure what to say, but I’d love to be kept updated on the situation. By the way, you’re not doing yourself any favors by keeping the shredded documents like this. Figure out what to do with it, whether handing it off to HR (not sure I would reveal that I went dumpster diving for confidential information, though. That would be super worrying to me if I were HR) or throw it back in the trash. But don’t keep it in your desk.

      1. Bex*

        Agree with all of this. Personally, I would turn it over to HR immediately and frame the dumpster diving as “I wanted to make sure this actually happened before I reported it.” Then back the hell off… if I was managing a team like this I would be tempted to just clean house, since that’s a lot of shady stuff and frankly everyone looks pretty bad.

    6. EddieSherbert*

      I’d want to stay out of it if possible, but at this point you are a bit involved. I think your best options are:
      A. Let the files go into the shredder bin. Report your conversation with coworker to HR – let them know you don’t want to be involved but are nervous you could get in trouble for knowing – and act like that’s the whole story.

      B. Give the files to coworker. Tell them your concerns and why you pulled them out of the shredder. Let her handle it from there and wash your hands of the situation.

      C. Can you just… anonymously put the files back and call it a day? Like nothing happened?

      Good luck! Very weird situation to say the least!

      1. UrbanGardener*

        C. is my plan, basically. Assuming the new manager will box up the boss’ old personnel files and put them in storage, I plan to slip these files in the box, too.

  45. Small company growing pains*

    I joined a small office, about 10 people, eight months ago. Most people have been there for 15-20 years, so I thought “This job must be awesome if people stay there so long!” After having worked for a couple of companies with very high turnover rates, I thought this company must be doing something right. After I accepted the position I came to find out that they had been looking to add someone to their team for a few years, but every time they add someone they last less than a year. And now I know why. This company functions like an extremely dysfunctional family, rather than co-workers. They scream at each other for things that I would deem no big deal but because they’ve been in such close proximity to each other for so long they just blow up. They have extremely unrealistic expectations of each other and especially of me, being new. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.

    After 8 months at this company, I still feel uncomfortable going into work. I used to consider myself the type that can get along with anyone, in my old jobs I was often the first one to crack a joke or try to ease tension; now I feel worn down by their attitude and I’ve stopped trying. I feel like Harry Potter sleeping in a broom cupboard. Any tips on how to survive a company with a deeply ingrained, tight-knit culture?

    (I deeply consider quitting, everyday. However I quit my last job after 8 months and don’t want to look like a job hopper.)

    1. Megs*

      Holy carp, that sounds awful! Job hopping is one thing, but working for any company you could reasonably compare to the Dursley’s can’t be good for your well being. Honestly, I’d suck it up for four months and then start looking again.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m so sorry you ran into this. I had a similar—though definitely not as bad—situation, in which I thought “most people have been here a long time” meant that the place was amazing. What it really meant was there was a group of people who had a close connection with each other and a shared style and culture, and those people stayed a long time, but there were a lot of other folks who would stay for only 1-3 years and keep leaving and being replaced.

    3. BRR*

      I thought you were going to write about my situation. It’s pretty similar except the people who have been their for 20 years are people who are lazy and won’t get fired because they’ve been there for 20 years. Long tenures go both ways is what I’ve learned.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Make to a year, then quit. That place will never get any better. You know that, and you need to get away.

    5. Natalie*

      One option might be connecting with a staffing/recruiting firm – you can be a little more honest with them about what’s going on, and they will screen it with their clients so you don’t have to have awkward interview conversations about why you’re leaving. This sounds bad enough that it shouldn’t be your only tactic but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

  46. TheUnexpectedDragon*

    I have a question for you lovely people. I’m a new manager, promoted to supervise the team of teapot makers I have previously been on. For the most part, this has been great. I have employee, formerly coworkers who are hard working and there haven’t been any blips about my going from one of the team to managing the team. My problem is with one of my teapot makers, Teddy.

    Teddy overshares on his personal life, which was mildly annoying as co-workers, but I could just tune out/not respond if I wanted to. He would get hurt but I would tell him that I needed to focus on work and couldn’t be his free therapist (actually used those words at one point). He would stop oversharing for a week or two, and then slowly ramp back up. This pattern has continued even after I became his manager, so it’s bonus not okay to be hearing about how marital issues are impacting your ability to get work done. Bonus, I used to hear about how old-boss never explained things and set him up to fail. He still whines about that, but, I’m the boss now. I know I explained and gave tools and training, sometimes even more than once.

    Any advice about how to put a lid on the oversharing and stop the whines of “I fail at life and will fail at this job”? Because right now, the whining level is pretty much guaranteeing a failure.

    1. Megs*

      Since you’re the manager now, make it official. Take him aside and tell him that this is inappropriate and has to stop. Then if he starts up again after a week or two, talk to him again, making it clear that this is a condition of employment. This kind of complaining is awful for everyone and you’re right, he’s setting himself up to fail. You’re his boss now, so make that explicit to him.

      1. TheUnexpectedDragon*

        It’s funny, I *know* that what he’s doing, if unfixed is fire-able. But now that I’ve heard so much, I would feel super guilty taking those steps. Which is clearly the unconscious point of the sad-sap overshare. Finding the boss pants is hard when it’s the first job ever needing them.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If you are looking for inroads to thinking about this, then think about the health of your group. If you want a working/cohesive group then you HAVE to deal with this guy.
          See, it’s not just about you and him. It’s about everyone he impacts. This guy will demolish your group if he continues indefinitely. You have already given him numerous opportunities. He is showing you how he plans on handling any more opportunities in the future.

          You cannot help someone who will not help themselves. There is a life lesson in this one, also, it’s not just a manager question.

      2. Lemon Zinger*

        +100. This is now a management issue. You need to nip his behavior in the bud, and make it obvious that it’s holding him back at work.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Honestly, this sounds like it’s above your pay grade. I think you would not be out of line in saying “Teddy, I’m concerned about you. I have given you clearly outlined steps several times, but you still seem to think that you are destined to fail, no matter what happens. Have you tried working with a counselor about how you approach situations you are nervous about? If you haven’t, I think it might be very beneficial for you.” If your company has an EAP setup, as a manager, pointing him at it and suggesting he could make use of it for this purpose would be within your role.

      1. TheUnexpectedDragon*

        When we were coworkers, I once actively suggested that he get therapy. Because he needs it, and random female coworkers are definitely not the place to get you emotional support. There have been a few rounds of “you should probably talk with your wife about that” or “you should speak with a professional about those issues”. Any script ideas for sitting him down for a talk?

        1. misspiggy*

          Wouldn’t you be having regular one to ones with each of your reports anyway? In which case you’d review his work briefly, and then say, ‘Teddy, I also need to raise something with you. You’ve been (doing specific behaviours) recently, and I’ve come to realise this is impacting your effectiveness as a member of this team. When you (x), it (causes specific business consequence). I need you to not do this at work any longer, although you’re welcome to contact the EAP at any time. Can you commit to that?’

          1. TheUnexpectedDragon*

            I don’t because we’re all technically contractors. I’m a contractor in charge of contractors who are on a different contract than I am. Which all means I can’t actually take disciplinary action, but can strongly recommend it. I pretty much have job of managing work flow, but have to bring in other people to manage behavior, since behavioral stuff could lead to a contract being cancelled. It’s…less than ideal.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Tell yourself over and over, “I am not paid to be his shrink.”

              I would recommend disciplinary action, if it were me. Some people will just endless suck up your time until they are motivated to do something else.

              I would tell Ted that his constant complaints are not professional. He needs to develop a plan to work at what bothers him. “In the meantime, since we have had discussions many, many times about your life problems, I have put in for a disciplinary action regarding your ongoing complaints as chronic negativity pulls the group effort down and must be addressed. This means a bit more than going two weeks without complaining, it means turning over a new leaf in your work-life.”

              I have worked with a few of these energy vampires and I no longer give them my energy. I am willing to help anyone who is helping themselves. Even people who are just doing little things to help themselves, I am totally in favor of helping them. This guy will just keep doing what he is doing and how much longer will you be able to do this?

        2. animaniactoo*

          “Teddy, you know that I’ve suggested seeing someone professional before about this. Now that I’m looking at this from the position of manager, I’m seeing how it impacts your role on the team in a much bigger way than I did before. It’s a pretty serious issue. I don’t know what [previous manager] may have said to you about it, but these are the ways that it impacts your role and the team.

          • Complaints are morale killing to listen to.
          • Expectation of failure is setting up a situation in which directions are not clearly understood or followed up when clarification is needed and failure is happening.
          • Etc.

          However you do it, you need to get a handle on this. I would strongly urge you to look into our company’s EAP program (if you have one) as part of seeing what steps you can take towards that. I believe that you have valuable contributions to make and I want to see you succeed, but in order to do that you have to take this seriously and work to improve these issues.”

          If you don’t have an EAP program, then strongly urge seeing a professional who can help him “work on his professional demeanor and attitude”.

          He may be a lost cause – in terms of being too strongly into a depressive attitude/state for anything you say to pull him out of it at this time. But you can and should try to be clear that you both are seeing a major impact in your role as manager (and what it specifically is), and that you want to see him overcome it and succeed as a member of your team.

  47. Anon today*

    I feel like there’s been a lot of discussion of fandom and fan-related activities here lately, and I’m wondering: how important do you think it is to keep talk of internet communities out of the workplace? I ask because in a public-facing role for my organization, where being a nerd or a geek is very much the norm. I have a small-but-visible fandom-related tattoo on my arm that I’ve covered in previous jobs but never this one (the mayor saw it the other day and laughed, telling me if I ever meet his 11-year-old son, the kid will want one, too). My boss knows I write fanfic and will teasingly ask if I plan to spend the evening/weekend writing. It’s also pretty known that I was able to pay for college because I 1) coded for a fandom-related website and 2) edited for a small publisher of LGBT erotica.

    I currently maintain somewhat of a firewall between my fandom persona, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s even necessary. Should I worry if someone at work finds out who I am online? I’m 30, this is my third job, I’ve been here 2 years and was head-hunted for this role, if that makes a difference.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The way I see it, most workplaces understand that you’re allowed to have a personal life. And while you don’t want them to interfere with each other, IMO they can each acknowledge that the other exists. I have homebrewing magazines in my office where visitors can see them (along with other unrelated reading material), and have discussed homebrewing with coworkers. Hell, I even have gone to a craft beer festival with a coworker with whom I’m quite friendly. I don’t feel the need to hide these things, although I really don’t talk about them with clients or even random coworkers.

      So I know you asked about fandom, but IMO it’s the same issue — an outside activity that some might look askance at. But they’re perfectly legitimate pursuits for adults to enjoy outside of work, and I don’t think we have to pretend they didn’t/don’t happen.

    2. Manders*

      I think you sound awesome! I don’t talk much about fandom-related activities at work, but only because none of my coworkers seem interested. If I saw a fandom-related tattoo or some toys on someone’s desk, it would be an awesome icebreaker.

      One of my long-term career goals is to move into a company where people are proud of their geeky interests. I don’t think anyone else in my office has even seen The Force Awakens. :/

      1. Hallway Feline*

        Same! My coworkers are all “real adults” who don’t take interest in things that aren’t “normal” (aka outside of over-hyped pop culture; they think The Big Bang Theory is super nerdy and edgy! [Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the show, but TBBT isn’t as nerdy or out there anymore.]).

        Whereas I am a little bit of a geek but I have to hide it at work because they give me funny looks like “what the heck is wrong with you?” when I mention I’m going to play D&D on the weekend, or playing Civ 5 all night with friends on my weekends. If you didn’t want to hear my weekend plans, why’d you ask?

    3. CM*

      I think it’s totally a culture thing. If you’re in a nerd-friendly organization where nobody will judge you for your extracurricular activities, and you wouldn’t mind talking about your activities with your coworkers, go for it. In a more conservative organization or one with coworkers who might give you a hard time, the firewall would probably be important.

    4. Aurion*

      I’ve been a fan since my teens and I’m very open that I’m a geek, but I don’t go into the fine details and I keep a very strong firewall between my real life and my fannish persona. My coworkers know that every time someone utters the phrase “Batman” I will turn my head (seriously, this happened yesterday. The fact I have the Gotham skyline as my desktop wallpaper is a clue), and if asked I can talk at length about what I think of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, certain video games, etc.

      But I (used to, haven’t had inspiration in a while) write fanfic, and I don’t mention that. If I end up going to a convention on the weekend, I’ll mention that, but I wouldn’t mention in detail all the panels I attended unless specifically asked. For one thing, unless someone expresses interest I don’t think they’re that interested so I don’t want to talk their ear off about stuff, and for two, a lot of fandom stuff touches upon things that aren’t work-safe topics (for example, I think LGBT is a totally work-safe topic. Erotica, not so much).

      Basically, I treat fandom like any other hobby. I make no secret that I’m a part of the community (“yeah, I totally spent the weekend watching e-sports!”) but unless someone expresses an interest I am not going to go into arm-flailing specifics (“did you see how Rogue totally slayed at GSL Code S yesterday?!”). And I don’t speak of any topic that I would be uncomfortable with a 10 year old hearing.

    5. Gene*

      Around here, it’s pretty much like any other hobby. My coworkers have been following along the saga of my costume for Worldcon, and even helping out (I’ve borrowed a piece of sporting equipment from one coworker for the con).

      I don’t hobnob with the Mayor, but the Director of Public Works knows where I’m going to be in 10 days.

    6. Library Director*

      I think the hobby idea is spot on. If you wouldn’t think twice about seeing sports memorabilia than fandom memorabilia is equivalent. Outside my office I have a wall that features my main fandom. The largest item is a framed poster from the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. It lends a little gravitas. My board chair wasn’t crazy about it until we were giving a VIP tour and the very, very VIP started gushing over my display. As long as you’re being you in a respectful way, I say let it show. (By respectful, I mean we all know the person who is adamant that the only side is Red and not Blue. Blue support is heresy.)

  48. Another Offensive Coworker*

    Going more anon for this one….

    I have a coworker who has some very offensive views on anyone GLBT (Apparently they caused the wildfires in California from getting married!), and she’ll often come to my cube and tell me her views. I don’t want to listen to that hateful sort of stuff, but I have some constraints:
    1. She’s extremely old. That’s not an excuse, of course, but her views are entrenched by decades and I couldn’t change or soften her mind.
    2. She’s senior to me, institutionally useful, and let’s just say that talking to her manager wouldn’t change anything.
    3. She can take offensive easily (irony!)
    4. She sits right next to me, and I often need her (on behalf of her dept) to sign off on things for me.

    So that said, does anyone have any scripts can I use to very gently discourage this topic? I’d love to use the “I hope you’re not saying that because I agree with you,” but she would not take it well. I don’t mind listening to her other stuff, but this is just too far for me.

    1. fposte*

      What does your manager say? Not about her views, but about her talking to you when you’re supposed to be working.

      1. Another Offensive Coworker*

        Unfortunately, this woman is enough of an institution here (and very genuinely useful in many ways) that her manager wouldn’t care, and she doesn’t talk enough to really get in the way of my work either. I’m on my own for this one :/

        1. fposte*

          *Your* manager, not her manager. And of course she gets in the way of your work–you really can’t work effectively while somebody’s talking. “Jane, sometimes Lucinda wants to chat at just the wrong time for getting my work done–how would you like me to handle that?” It’s not about getting her disciplined, it’s about getting you authorization to move her along.

          And it’s not about the topic, it’s about her picking the wrong time to talk. (Because there’s never a right time for that conversation, but you don’t need to say that.)

    2. Amtelope*

      Can you try a softer version of “I hope you’re not saying that because you think I agree with you”? Maybe something like “We’re just going to have to agree to disagree about that,” or “I’m not the best audience for this,” or “I’m really not up for politics at work. Tell me about [some other interest you know she has] — how’s it going with your [garden/baking/grandkids/television watching/whatever]?”

      I know this is hard when you’re dealing with someone senior to you, but as a lesbian, I’d be so horribly uncomfortable listening to that conversation going on near me, and even if pushing back a little bit does nothing to change her mind, at least it’ll establish to listeners that you don’t agree with her.

      1. Amtelope*

        Also, that’s my advice if it’s really true that talking to her manager won’t change anything. Her behavior would be completely unacceptable in many offices — are you sure there’s no one in management who’s willing to step in to address this with her?

        1. Another Offensive Coworker*

          Yeah, that’s part of it that I feel embarrassed when she says some of these things to me– but she really could make my life miserable work-wise, so I can’t really argue! I like the suggestions for softer disagreements and changing the subject; I know I’ll have to work on practicing some of those.

          And sadly, our institution (strong tenure plus weak HR and management) means that no one is going to broach this with her, so I want to get really good at gently pushing back on her myself.

          1. AnotherTeacher*

            Would fposte’s recommendation work? If not, and I understand if not because of what you’ve said, changing the topic like “Oh my goodness, I just remembered X!” works. Maybe you could fake a sneezing fit and have to excuse yourself.

            I like saying something like “You know, I have family members and other people I love who are LGBT.” Sometimes I feign misunderstanding, which is true in the sense that I don’t share the other person’s bigoted views, and the other person sort of loses steam in explaining what they mean. But, it sounds like she might take offense at those tactics.

      2. CM*

        I really like this phrasing — I tend to be more blunt so I was going to suggest, “I don’t agree with you and I don’t really want to talk about this,” accompanied by a change of subject. Antelope’s is nicer.

    3. The Butcher of Luverne*

      “It really bothers me to hear comments like that. Can we agree not to discuss the topic, please?”

    4. Theguvnah*

      Keep a jar on your desk. Every time she says something awful, put in a dollar Bill (or a fiver, or a quarter, whatever you have). Every few months, add up what you have in the jar and donate it to an LGBT organization. Maybe even in her name ;)

      And smile to yourself every time she says something awful.

  49. Temperance*

    Crowdsourcing advice:

    I regularly get phone calls from people requesting assistance – people that I cannot help, for various reasons. I give them other resources to call, but I very often run into the situation where the person on the line is extremely anxious/agitated and has decided that *I* am helping them. So they’ll call me several times instead of an org that can actually assist. Which exacerbates their problems. (Here’s an example: a woman outside of our coverage area was being evicted and ignored the first hearing, and then called me and then my boss 8 times in 2 days, after I told her we couldn’t help her.)

    I’ve stopped returning calls past the first one, but otherwise, what can I do? Some of these folks are obviously dealing with anxiety, but I don’t have the time or resources to take ownership of their problems (nor is it my job to do so).

    1. Chriama*

      I think you have to give yourself permission to let go. You’ve provided them the information you can. After that, screen their calls. It sucks, but you’re only one person and you don’t have unlimited working capacity.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I should have mentioned this with the racist coworker Henry above, but a good closer is “I’m sorry, but if you don’t have any other questions for me, I’m going to have to go help other clients. *click*” That should be preceded with something more like “As we discussed, we can’t help you with X, that ABC agency’s area. We can only help with Y. Did you have a question about Y?” at least once, usually 2-3 times, although after 8 (!!) calls, I would jump right to the closer.

    3. animaniactoo*

      Can you treat the calls as the help you are giving? “Okay, this is what I need you to do for me. Call this number and explain the whole situation to them. I can’t make the call for you because they’ll need to ask you personal questions that I won’t have the answers for, so I need you to make that call, okay?”

    4. Mimmy*

      I had callers similar to this in my previous job – I can think of two in particular who kept calling and calling and calling. One person kept looking for help to find housing. Another person practically latched on to me so every time there was a crisis or change in her family’s situation, she’d call me. Whenever she got agitated, she would sound like the Howard’s unseen mother in Big Bang Theory.

      They probably just see you and/or your boss as someone who’s been particularly empathetic. I assume this a human services agency and you’re providing Information & Referral? (Apologies if I’m mistaken). A lot of times, I think people feel like agents from many organizations are not helpful or rude, so once they find someone who sounds friendly and willing to help, that’s all they’re willing to deal with. You probably need to be firmer in saying that you do not have the resources to help. I never learned to do that – I always felt like I *had* to do something and that if I didn’t have the info or resources they needed, I felt like I didn’t do my job.

      Maybe get together with your boss and come up with scripts. Repeat callers can definitely be a time and energy suck. I wish I’d learned to deal with them more effectively.

      1. Temperance*

        You’re close – I work at a law firm, and we do pro bono. I need to work on being firmer with telling people no. I sometimes just don’t return calls, which isn’t great, but makes my life easier. (These referrals aren’t really my job.)

    5. BuildMeUp*

      Something that I’ve found helpful in customer service positions is to re-frame your response.

      What has worked for me is to eliminate the “bad news” part of the response entirely. Don’t say no. Don’t say, “That isn’t my department, but…” or “I can’t help you, but…” because for some people, anything after that just won’t be heard. They hear that you’re saying no and all their focus goes to trying to change your mind.

      Instead, go straight into the information about who can help them. “Oh, you need help with X? That’s handled by the Official X Department. Do you have a pen? I’ll give you their phone number/address.” Try to mentally view it differently, too – right now you’re thinking, “Oh, I can’t help this person.” But you are helping them – you’re giving them the information they need to contact the right person. Try to say it that way, too – if your voice sounds helpful and like you’re solving a problem for them, that might help as well.

  50. super anon*

    anyone have any tips/tricks/advice for studying for and passing the PMP? Any good study book recommendations? I’m hoping to take the PMP in December after I finish my 35 education hours and I want to make sure I pass on the first try because that $550 USD test taking fee is pretty steep.

    1. Pwyll*

      One of those deals sites was having a special on an online PMP course for $49, down from $1000. I can’t seem to find it at the moment, but maybe google for it? Perhaps it was Kinja or Lifehacker?

    2. Brownie Queen*

      Get Rita Mulcahy’s PMP exam prep. It is helpful. If you can, take a good prep course. I got my PMP last year so this is what I remember from the prep course.

      Memorize your formulas
      Make sure you know you know your knowledge areas and process groups from the PMbok

      When I took the exam, first thing I did was jot down all of the formulas and process groups this was helpful.

      Good luck

    3. Slippy*

      It is just generic advice but remember that the book’s way is the “right” way. I have a couple of friends that failed it the first time through due to them relying on their experience and answering with solutions that would work in real life but was not the book answer.

      1. it happens*

        Seconding Slippy’s note – study the book and do the practice exams. Doesn’t matter what works in the real world, there is a RIGHT answer for the exam, know what it is.
        Good luck – it’s a pain, but worth having the credential to get better jobs.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Ooh, I wrote a blog post about this right after I passed my exam:

      TL;DR: practice tests upon practice tests upon practice tests. There’s a collection of links here: – I found #1 and #3 on that list to be the most helpful.

      Good luck!

      1. Girasol*

        A friend advised me to take the practice tests all the way through, timed rather than do some questions and take a break. He had a theory that you needed not just to know the material but the stamina to sit out such a long test. That seemed to work for me.

  51. Planet Janet*

    So I’ve been thinking lately that I’d really like to go back to school and get my MBA and transition careers to management consulting. My biggest concern is that I’m not sure my work experience is impressive enough to get me into target schools. As background, I have an undergrad degree in business (b.comm, majoring in mgmt. info systems) and 2 years of work experience in IT at a financial institution. I work with the software that holds transaction and account info and do pretty much everything except actual coding (we work alongside a couple developers for that).

    I guess I’m worried that I’m kind of pigeonholed in my role now . My current department is really flat and I’m not sure there’s a managerial path available if I stay here so I’m wondering if I should be looking at leaving my department or my company altogether and if so, what kind of roles I’d even be qualified for that would be a boost to my profile. I’d like to hear from anyone who’s used an MBA as a career switch or came to management consulting from another field. Or anyone who’s had a good experience with a career counsellor that they’d like to recommend.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      So you don’t actually have any management experience, which will disqualify you from a lot of MBA programs. Maybe look into ones that are tailored toward recent grads. Your job situation certainly doesn’t sound ideal. Why don’t you search out someone at your job who can talk to you about possibly moving up? If you can’t, or find out that there are no options, then you should probably start a job search.

      My work partner finished her MBA in May, with no management experience, and she was aggressively applying for management roles this whole summer. She just got a job, but at the school that provided her MBA. It’s not a management job.

      1. Planet Janet*

        To clarify, I’m planning to apply in 3-ish years so there’s (hopefully) time to improve my work history. I’m just wondering about the best way to do that. ‘Moving up’ could mean all sorts of things. Is anything fine as long as I’m managing other people?

        1. Lemon Zinger*

          Oh sorry, I misread your post! I think management experience of any kind would work. MBA programs are flexible, and they teach important skills for any kind of management.

    2. Bex*

      It really depends on what your target schools are. For the top tier schools that MBB recruit from, you would need way more that 2 yrs of entry level work. It doesn’t necessarily need to be supervisory work, but at least project management and some kind of leadership role that you can point to.

  52. TotesMaGoats*

    So, various updates.

    Graduation went far more smoothly than ever and even beat my own time goal. So, lots of kudos but nothing formally or publicly for pulling this off essentially by myself. I knew the PTB wouldn’t but…

    I’m actively looking for a new job. Two applications in this week and working on a third. That has improved my spirits a lot. I’m even looking outside of higher ed which makes me sad. Still though, I cried all the way home on Monday because the interpersonal/emotional damage of working here with people who are crazy is becoming too much.

    People are leaving like proverbial rats. Almost every Monday for the past 3 weeks someone has announced in stand up that they are resigning. And it’s like no one is putting it all together.

    And my work BFF has a phone interview next week. She’ll be out of here fast which is good for her but sad for me. At least I’ll get a mani/pedi out of it. We made a bet that whoever leaves first has to treat the other to a mani/pedi. And if we both manage to leave at the same time it’s a spa day. So, we win either way.

    1. CM*

      Good luck with the job search! At least you can give yourself kudos, when you interview elsewhere… use your successful graduation as an example of “a time when I faced a challenging situation” or something. I hope you find something with nice, normal coworkers, ideally in higher ed. And I hope you get that spa day!

    2. Anxa*

      Congrats on graduation.

      When I was a student worker, I inherited a huge campus event without the funding previous people in my position had. And my coworkers weren’t really helping as much as usual (it was back to school, everyone had a ton on their plate).

      I learned a lot about event management (which is kind of useless for my current ambitions) and asking for help and managing expectations.

      But I do remember it being super frustrating to feel like the expectations were a bit too high without having the support I felt I should have had.

      My local university is a sinking ship, but that’s mostly because of politics (my state is very anti-education despite having had a pretty reputable state university system). It’s kind of sad.

  53. Natalie*

    Business fashion question.

    I have a new job, and they do not have any kind of dress code or dress culture – people seem to genuinely wear whatever they want, from grubby shorts & Tevas to slacks/button up/fancy pen in the breast pocket. I came from a 100% casual environment and I (oddly, given how I dress on weekends) didn’t like it. I feel more professional somewhat dressed up, and I like to keep my “business dress” chops up. Nor do I mind being on the “dressier” side of the office – I’m in accounting so it’s not really that weird. (And bonus, the next time I’m interviewing it will be easier to hide. Changing into a suit in the bathroom and then sneaking out of my building was nerve-wracking.)

    The problem is that all of the articles I’ve seeing about dressing down a suit are for men. So that’s basically what I’m looking for – I’m already leaving my jacket off, but what else would you do to dress down suit pants or a pencil skirt? Crazy shoes? Alternatively, how would you dress jeans way up? I feel like I could go either way.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      I love sheath dresses, because they’re flattering on most people, and you can dress them up or down with tight and cardigans, shrugs, or jackets. A really nice blouse and dress shoes or boots will dress jeans right up. For suits, I often just swap out the jacket for a cardigan.

      As a short woman who has looked younger than her age all her life, I completely understand your desire to dress up. I have found that people take me more seriously and treat me more like an equal when I’m dressed less casually.

      1. Natalie*

        Yep, I’m a short-ish woman and personality wise, I just don’t scream “professional and you need to listen to me”, possibly because I don’t feel it. When I’m in jeans and a t shirt my brain slides right out of work mode.

    2. Dawn*

      Bright colored tops or bright accessories would be a great way to dress down suit pants or a suit skirt. Dressing up jeans is easy- just add a blazer! Blazers instantly make anything look more profesh!

      1. Church Dancing Honey Mustard*

        Agreed on blazers. I’ve got three blazers in rotation that I wear pretty much every time I go into the office (I’m full-time Work At Home now). I also love the Portofino style blouses from Express for work. I have a three in different colors and will buy more the next time I need to buy clothing for work. I also wear them outside of work too. I do have to wear a camisole or something underneath them though, because I’m short and bigger in the chest, and they are a little too low cut for my taste.

    3. Chriama*

      Cardigans. They bring everything down a level. Also, funky jewellery and more casual t-shirts/tank tops instead of blouses. I think pants are easiest to dress down, while pencil skirts are the hardest – A-line and circle skirts are easier. I also find that if you have suit sets, splitting them up (so wearing the skirt with a cardigan or the blazer with jeans) is a way to get more use out of your current wardrobe.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s a good idea, wearing the suit jacket with jeans. One of them looks way to “suit-y”, but the rest are a little more blazer-styled and would look fine I bet.

    4. fposte*

      The previous post this morning is awash in good tips about dressing jeans up, so have a look in there. For dressing more tailored stuff down, go with knits, especially more relaxed fit knits, on the other end (that’s easier in winter but still doable in summer). You could even throw in an amusing printed tee under a light cardigan or with a scarf so it’s clearly part of a look. Shoes are wide open–crazy, sandals, boots, chunky orthopedics for a look that’s simultaneously metal and comfort :-), sneaks if you’re comfortable with the mix.

      1. Natalie*

        Ah, there must be more since I last checked the comments! That’s actually what reminded me I should ask here.

    5. HW*

      I work in a similarly odd situation dress code wise. I technically work in a warehouse which means jeans, sneakers, tshirts are recommended but we share kitchen and bathroom spaces with the main office workers in our building which has a stricter dress code so we’re expected to find an awkward balance between the two. I usually wear dark wash or black jeans that could be mistaken for black slacks with an untucked button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and/or an oversized cardigan and nice flats (I have some great super comfy loafers that work perfect for making my jeans seem instantly a little nicer) or low heeled boots. I’ll dress up the shirt with a short necklace (nothing that could get caught in machinery!). Sometimes I’ll wear like a striped tshirt or something along those lines if I don’t want to deal with a button up. Another thing I do is wear skinny legged black slacks and roll them up a little at the ankle so they seem a little more casual/dressed down. That way I can usually adapt to whatever is thrown at me in the warehouse but not get complaints about how we dress down when in the shared space with our more formal office workers. Hope that helps!

    6. Natalie*

      A few people have suggested cardigans with the dress pants – are you thinking a structured cardigan or a softer one?

      1. zora.dee*

        either way, depends on how casual you want to go.

        A more classic “Jackie O” style cardigan is more business-ey looking, heading toward business formal.

        But a more casual one, like a “boyfriend” cardigan or a waterfall cardigan will make it even more casual.

        And blanket cardigans are super popular in my area these days, with southwestern-ey prints and assymetrical hems.

        Look online for some different cardigan ideas and see how far you want to go.

      2. periwinkle*

        I’d do a softer cardigan with the dress pants and a more structured one with the jeans/chinos.

        Right now I’m wearing gray cords, medium blue polo, and gray structured cardigan. On Monday I’ll probably wear black dress pants, a soft-colored shell of some sort, and the blue one-button fleece cardigan that I snagged from Nordstrom’s anniversary sale. I feel smarter when I wear some sort of jacket-y thing!

    7. Student*

      Ultimately, you want to be the focus of people’s attention on you at work, not your clothes.

      Look at your co-workers, and try to find something that you’re comfortable in and doesn’t make you stand out in the “wrong” way. Since you’re more toward the dressed-up end of the spectrum, I suggest you aim for: when you stand next to the boss, strangers still know which one of you is the boss most of the time. You can come close to the boss’s level of dressed-up, but probably shouldn’t look like you are 2 levels above him on the org chart, because that’s when you are going to be getting negative attention for dressing up too much. That might even be the definition of dressing up too much in business culture – dressing up so much that you make the boss look bad in comparison.

      If you’re trying to dress down an outfit by adding attention-grabbing elements, that’s probably the wrong way to go about it and you need to start from a less-dressy base. The attention-getting elements may make it less formal at a social gathering, but they do exactly the opposite of what you want clothes to do at work – be a quiet background to your work. You can have only one attention-grabber piece of apparel at work, as an acceptable personality quirk, social conversation-starting crutch, or “personal trademark”, unless you are in the entertainment industry. Anything else is mistaking the purpose of work clothes with social clothes norms and drawing negative attention your way.